A top Department of Homeland Security official on Monday defended his agency’s presence in Portland, Ore., where reports of unidentifiable security officers taking aggressive action against protesters have drawn national scrutiny.
In an interview on CNN, acting deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli claimed the department deployed federal law enforcement to Portland over the July 4 weekend after having received “locally generated” intelligence regarding “planned attacks” on federal facilities.
Cuccinelli said the federal agents have “been there ever since” on a mission to protect those U.S. government buildings, wearing the “very same uniforms” during their time in Portland. “The crowd has seen them every day, marked and so forth,” he added.
Cuccinelli also warned DHS would advance its law enforcement components into other American cities “if we get the same kind of intelligence” about threats to federal facilities or officers, saying: “We would respond the same way.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler urged the Trump administration Sunday to call off its federal intervention in the city, accusing the militarized government forces of “sharply escalating the situation” and employing tactics that are “abhorrent” and “completely unconstitutional.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Sunday likened the federal presence in Portland to “adding gasoline to a fire,” and said she “was very, very clear” with administration officials about the need for DHS officers to retreat from the city.
“The Trump administration needs to stop playing politics with people’s lives,” Brown, a Democrat, said. “We don’t have a secret police in this country. This is not a dictatorship. And Trump needs to get his officers off the streets.”
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has promoted his hardline response to the city’s protests and other mass demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality which have continued since the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, by Minneapolis police in May.
Portland politicians “are just fine with 50 days of anarchy,” Trump tweeted Sunday, alleging that “Radical Left Democrats” would “destroy our Country” if he were not reelected. In an interview that aired Sunday, the president also touted the “very tough stand” his administration had taken.