Senate Democrats call on DHS for details on response to Portland protests
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 Warner (D-Va.), sent a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas 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.”
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.
Other senators that signed the letter were Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Martin Heinrich (N.M.), Michael Bennett (Colo.), Bob Casey (Pa.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (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 Trump 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.
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