- Acting secretary Chad Wolf emphasized that the Department of Homeland Security had the authority to provide security for federal buildings in any state amid the ongoing protests.
- State leaders have condemned the deployment of federal agents to quell the protests, setting up a looming legal showdown over states’ rights and federal overreach.
- “We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not,” Wolf said during a Fox News interview. “That’s our responsibility.”
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Acting secretary Chad Wolf emphasized that the Department of Homeland Security had the authority to protect the roughly 9,000 federal buildings located in any state, regardless of how state leaders felt about a federalized presence.
Speaking to Fox News hosts on Monday morning, Wolf blamed state leaders for the ongoing protests that has prompted the deployment of DHS agents to federal buildings last week, including a courthouse in Portland, Oregon.
State leaders have “fostered this environment that allows these individuals to attack the courthouse,” Wolf said during the Fox News interview, adding that,”I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job.”
“We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not,” Wolf said. “That’s our responsibility.”
Wolf’s comments come as protests persist throughout the country after the death of George Floyd in late May. In Portland, the ongoing protests have continued past its 50th day, where public buildings have been defaced and some protesters have clashed with local and state law enforcement officials.
“Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it,” the department said in a statement on Thursday. “This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them.”
The DHS’s move sparked concern from a number of legal experts, particularly after video footage of protesters being whisked away in unmarked minivans emerged on social media. The videos showed at least one protester being taken away by masked personnel wearing US Army uniforms and a nondescript “POLICE” patch, both of which are available online for purchase.
The Customs and Border Protection agency later confirmed its agents apprehended a protester who was “suspected of assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property,” and that it concealed the names of its agents at the time due to “doxing incidents.”
State leaders have condemned the deployment of federal agents to quell the protests, setting up a legal showdown over states’ rights and potential federal overreach. Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, sued the DHS on Friday and claimed it was unlawfully detaining protesters without probably cause.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler during a CNN interview on Sunday accused the DHS of “sharply escalating the situation” and said he believed “their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.”
“We haven’t asked them here, in fact we want them to leave,” Wheeler said, adding that he was imploring the Trump administration to “take these people our of our city.”
Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, President Donald Trump compared the protests across the country to the conflict in Afghanistan, and said he would mobilize additional federal agents to stop the demonstrations. Trump’s comments comes as DHS prepares for the possibility of deploying around 150 agents to Chicago, according to a Chicago Tribune report published Monday.