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Senate Democrats call on DHS for details on response to Portland protests

Senate Democrats call on DHS for details on response to Portland protests
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee are calling on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release details on the agency’s response to last summer’s anti-racism protests in Portland, Ore.

The lawmakers, led by committee Chairman Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerA bold fix for US international taxation of corporations Democrats offer competing tax ideas on Biden infrastructure Five ways an obscure Senate ruling could change Washington MORE (D-Va.), sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasBiden picks vocal Trump critics to lead immigration agencies Biden is thinking about building that wall — and that's a good thing 3M files lawsuit against Florida company over fake N95 masks MORE on Tuesday regarding an internal report from January on the way the agency’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis handled last summer’s protests.

The senators said that the report “raises serious concerns about the Department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) which require a response from Department leadership.”

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The lawmakers wrote that the report detailed a “series of problems” regarding the legality of the office’s operations, its relationship with authorities and management of the climate during the Portland protests. They demanded an explanation on how DHS will address the issues raised in the report and implement the recommendations included.

The lawmakers also requested that the department prepare a version of the report for public release.

Protests erupted in the city following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis at the end May 2020. The demonstrations in Portland became violent and in August, officers declared the protests a riot after a police union office was set on fire

Protesters at the time also erected a fence and pushed dumpsters into the street and set them on fire, according to a local police report. 

Federal law enforcement officers were also sent into the city in July to the federal court house where they deployed tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls to disperse those who were in front of the area. At the time, the area had seen demonstrations for 60 consecutive days over the killing of Floyd. 

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Other senators that signed the letter were Democratic Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenIRS chief warns of unpaid taxes hitting trillion The first Southern state legalizes marijuana — what it means nationally A bold fix for US international taxation of corporations MORE (Ore.), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinBiden's gun control push poses danger for midterms Caitlyn Jenner exploring bid for California governor: report WokeWorld comes for 'oppressor' Obama: Activists rip school being named after 'deporter in chief' MORE (Calif.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichTop academics slam Puerto Rico Self-Determination Act Groups petition EPA to remove ethane and methane from list of compounds exempt from emissions limits Senators press for answers in Space Command move decision MORE (N.M.), Michael Bennett (Colo.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyDemocrats divided on gun control strategy Senate Democrats call on DHS for details on response to Portland protests Dems' momentum hits quagmire over infrastructure plans MORE (Pa.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandJon Stewart accuses VA of being 'an obstacle' to burn pits medical care Family policy that could appeal to the right and the left 2024 GOP White House hopefuls lead opposition to Biden Cabinet MORE (D-N.Y.).

The Hill has reached out to DHS for comment.

The report focuses on how the Office of Intelligence and Analysis was run under former acting Undersecretary Brian Murphy during the Trump administration, according to Reuters, which obtained a copy of the document. Murphy later resigned. 

Murphy alleged in a whistleblower complaint last September that DHS appointees of former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to move ahead with billion UAE weapons sale approved by Trump Fox News hires high-profile defense team in Dominion defamation lawsuit Associate indicted in Gaetz scandal cooperating with DOJ: report MORE abused their authority and pressured him to stop reporting on Russian campaigns to interfere in U.S. politics.

Murphy also alleged that he was asked by the administration to "overplay" the importance of left-wing groups and movements such as antifa.