Head of Dept. of Homeland Security addresses Portland protests

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC) – Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testified Thursday at a Senate hearing about the recent protest in Portland, Oregon.

During his opening statement, Secretary Wolf told the Senate Homeland Security Committee that local law enforcement policies made it difficult for federal authorities to deal with protesters. He said, “DHS and DOJ officers, law enforcement officers, civil law enforcement officers were abandoned due to the dangerous policies by local officials.”

Wolf also stressed that DHS supports the right of every American to peacefully protest but that federal law enforcement will remain in Portland until they can be assured that federal facilities will not be attacked.

“I want to be clear. We see in Portland, every day, non-violent protests. The department is aware of the national dialogue taking place around racism and law enforcement practices and we continue to support and defend every American’s right to exercise their First Amendment right. The violent activity that I will refer to today is not associated with those protests.”

Portland has seen ten straight weeks of protests against police brutality and systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd.

Wolf explained, “Our law enforcement officers are not storm troopers, the Gestapo or thugs. They are civil law enforcement officers who wear clearly marked uniforms, who are properly trained, who follow established law enforcement procedures and practices and operate within their authorities.”

Wolf told senators, “As of today the full augmented DHS law enforcement posture remains in Portland. They will continue to remain until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse as well as other federal facilities in Portland will no longer be violently attacked.”

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