Federal agents deployed to Portland did not have training in riot control: NYT
The federal agents deployed to Portland, Ore., amid nationwide protests did not have riot and mass crowd control training, according to an internal memo that was circulated at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and obtained by The New York Times.
The memo, compiled for acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf was dated for Thursday just as Wolf traveled to Portland to view firsthand the situation between protesters and federal authorities. The memo reportedly listed federal buildings and the officers deployed to defend them.
In addition, the memo suggested that should federal law enforcement be deployed to other U.S. cities that are experiencing unrest that, “if this type of response is going to be the norm, specialized training and standardized equipment should be deployed to responding agencies.”
News of the memo comes as Tensions have escalated between law enforcement and demonstrators since the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed while in Minneapolis police custody in late May. The protests have dominated the Portland area for well over a month, and at times, have led to the damage of federal property.
These actions prompted Wolf to send federal officers to the Rose City to protect the buildings.
President Trump in June signed an executive order for the federal government to protect federal monuments throughout the country, prompting the response in Oregon.
Wolf in a statement Thursday described protesters as a “violent mob,” though protests Thursday night were reported to be mainly peaceful.
The presence of the federal officers has been met with significant pushback from Oregon lawmakers.
“I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) tweeted Thursday. “His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) tweeted about the situation on Tuesday, saying that he informed Wolf that “we do not need or want” assistance from federal officers.
The news also comes as reports of unidentifiable, camouflaged federal officers picking up and detaining protesters in unmarked vans have drawn ire from the state’s congressional lawmakers.
Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley (D) and Ron Wyden (D) and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D) and Suzanne Bonamici (D) asked Friday for the events to be thoroughly reviewed by DHS.
“DHS and DOJ are engaged in acts that are horrific and outrageous in our constitutional democratic republic,” Merkley said.
“First, they are deploying paramilitary forces with no identification indicating who they are or who they work for. Second, these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification. Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans,” he said.
He added: “We demand not only that these acts end, but also that they remove their forces immediately from our state. Given the egregious nature of the violations against Oregonians, we are demanding full investigations by the Inspectors General of these departments.”
Updated 7:16 p.m.