FBI says it’s investigating ‘specific violations of federal law,’ not ideology, in Portland protests

The FBI defended its actions in ongoing confrontations between federal agents and demonstrators in Portland, Ore., claiming federal law enforcement was focusing only on people committing violence and damaging federal property.

Protesters have dominated the streets of Portland since early June, when demonstrations sparked across the country after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody. Federal agents have used force against protesters in Portland several times this month, throwing protestors into unmarked vans and tear-gassing the city’s mayor.

Federal law enforcement, which was deployed by the Department of Homeland Security, has said it is protecting federal property, such as the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. 

Renn Cannon, special agent in charge of Portland’s FBI field office, said in a statement Friday that the bureau is investigating “specific violations of federal law, including arson, the use of improvised explosive devices, and interstate transportation of stolen goods.”

President Trump and other conservative lawmakers have advocated for a more assertive approach to quelling protests. Democrats have called for probes into the administration’s use of federal law enforcement in Portland and in other cities since Floyd’s death.

Cannon stressed that the FBI does not align itself with ideology of a particular group and is concerned only with addressing violence and crime.

“Our focus is not on membership in particular groups but on individuals who commit violence and criminal activity that constitutes a federal crime or poses a threat to national security,” Cannon said. “The FBI does not and will not police ideology.”

Tags Donald Trump FBI George Floyd protests Portland protests

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