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DOJ explored charges against Portland officials after protesters clashed with law enforcement

DOJ explored charges against Portland officials after protesters clashed with law enforcement
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) has explored charges against Portland, Ore., officials after nightly protests for police reform led to clashes between demonstrators and law enforcement, a spokesperson told The Associated Press on Thursday.

DOJ spokesperson Kerri Kupec said the department had conducted research on whether it could pursue charges against Portland officials over their handling of the unrest. She declined to tell the AP what the status was on the charges and whether they would be brought.

The consideration of pressing criminal or civil charges against Portland officials follows as President TrumpDonald TrumpFBI says California extremist may have targeted Newsom House Democrat touts resolution to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene from Congress Facebook to dial back political content on platform MORE’s administration has prioritized cracking down on violence related to the demonstrations. 

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If criminal civil rights charges were brought against city officials, the DOJ would likely face a challenge in reaching a conviction, the AP noted.

The charges would come after federal officials deployed to the city were informed that Portland police officers were instructed not to respond to the federal courthouse where hundreds of demonstrators were throwing projectiles at federal law enforcement.

Protests have continued in Portland since the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, which sparked calls and demonstrations nationwide and internationally for racial justice. The majority of these demonstrations have been peaceful, with some having some instances of looting and violence.

The report on possible charges in Portland comes after The New York Times reported Wednesday that Attorney General William BarrBill BarrOver 40 lawmakers sign letter urging Merrick Garland to prioritize abolishing death penalty Biden's cyber priorities zero in on Russian hack Poll finds 1 in 3 believe false claims voter fraud led to Biden win MORE requested prosecutors to look into charging Seattle Mayor Jenny DurkanJenny DurkanSeattle mayor announces she won't run for reelection At a time of crisis, America's mayors are ready to partner with President-elect Biden Seattle City Council cuts police department budget nearly 17 percent MORE (D) because of the protest zone established over the summer. DOJ officials have disputed the report. 

During his reelection campaign, Trump has highlighted the chaos associated with protests in Portland and other cities and connected it with Democratic city leaders. He has criticized Portland officials, especially Mayor Ted Wheeler (D), for not quelling the demonstrations. 

More than 100 people have been charged with federal charges related to the Portland protests, according to the AP.