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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 TrumpProject Veritas surveilled government officials to expose anti-Trump sentiments: report Cheney: Fox News has 'a particular obligation' to refute election fraud claims The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? 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 BarrLawyer for former officer charged in George Floyd death alleges witness coercion CNN legal analyst joins DOJ's national security division Barr threatened to resign over Trump attempts to fire Wray: report MORE requested prosecutors to look into charging Seattle Mayor Jenny DurkanJenny DurkanWill Seattle officials use the same lawsuit defense they want to take away from police? Washington state officials warn providers offering VIP vaccine access Seattle mayor announces she won't run for reelection 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.