DHS chief vows to quash Portland protests as local officials decry fed ‘paramilitary assaults’

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Chad Wolf took to Twitter to voice his disapproval of protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf continued to denounce protests in Portland on Friday morning, hours after federal officers once again deployed tear gas throughout the city’s streets.

Chad Wolf arrived in Portland Thursday afternoon after issuing a statement condemning ongoing violence displayed at protests in Portland. The day after arriving in the City of Roses, Wolf took to Twitter to call out an Associated Press story on the protests, saying the publication mischaracterizes the people at these demonstrators.

“Let’s get this right,” he wrote. “‘Protestors’ imply they were peacefully exercising their 1st amendment rights. Instead, DHS officers were assaulted with lasers and frozen water bottles from violent criminals attempting to tear down federal property. 2 officers were injured. Facts matter.”

Wolf’s Twitter account on Friday morning served not only to voice his disapproval of the protests but also his praise for the federal officers and the Portland Police Bureau. Earlier in the day, he posted multiple photos of uniformed officers with a caption commending them for their service. It read, “Our men and women in uniform are patriots. We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”

In other tweets, Wolf included photos of him and officers observing graffiti around the city in the light of day. He wrote, “These valiant men and women have defended our institutions of justice against violent anarchists for 48 straight days. We will prevail,” in one post.

Wolf wrapped up his Twitter thread with a clip from his appearance on Fox News, saying “I offered DHS support to help locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland, and their only response was: please pack up and go home. That’s just not going to happen on my watch.”

In the clip, he continued to repeatedly use the term “violent anarchists,” saying he toured the courthouse and personally saw the graffiti, broken doors and broken windows.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden gave his rebuttal shortly after Wolf’s tweet to the Associated Press. In tweets of his own, Wyden said the protection of Americans is not this administration’s priority.

“Paramilitary assaults at the direction of Donald Trump and Chad Wolf are nothing more than a catalyst for violence. This administration has no real interest in protecting Americans. Our country needs lasting, peaceful solutions that bubble up from the community,” Wyden wrote.

He continued into another tweet to describe what he’s doing in response to the actions of Wolf and Trump.

“This week I’ve been meeting with community leaders across Oregon to discuss their ideas to create lasting peace and equity within our communities,” he said. “While the White House continues to spout division and hatred, these Oregonians are demonstrating true local leadership.”

Fellow state senator Jeff Merkley fired a tweet off soon after, directly at President Trump.

@realDonaldTrump: Get your DHS lackey and uninvited paramilitary actions out of my state. Our communities are not a stage for your twisted reelection campaign,” the tweet read.

An escalation in protest activity in the city is due, in part, to the arrival of Chad Wolf, the acting secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Wolf drove into downtown Portland Thursday afternoon, hours after issuing a statement condemning ongoing violence displayed at protests in the city.

Wolf accused local leaders of failing to protect the city, which he said has been “under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob.” Lawless anarchists, Wolf said, are destroying and desecrating property.

Later that day, Federal officers first fired rounds and deployed tear gas after protesters stood their ground outside the federal courthouse. A few hundred demonstrators had gathered in the area but were told to disperse by police after they reportedly heard chanting about burning down the building.

Some protesters remained in the area and were arrested. A total of 20 people were arrested by PPB overnight.

Thursday’s events began in the evening with two separate marches: one organized by the PNW Youth Liberation Front and a “March for Black Education” organized by Black Youth Movement. The latter started at King Elementary School and ended at Woodlawn, while the former started at Laurelhurst Park and ended at the Portland Police Bureau’s Southeast Precinct on East Burnside, where protesters stood and chanted slogans directed at officers in riot gear for hours until the gathering was declared an unlawful assembly and officers ordered people to disperse.

Across the Willamette River, several hundred protesters gathered outside of the Justice Center and the Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. The federal building has been a main focus of contention in recent days. Federal officers have used tear gas multiple times against protesters since last week.

By the end of the night, police declared an unlawful assembly due to “criminal behavior” happening in the crowd, including throwing rocks, bottles, and sticks, as well as pointing green lasers at officers. By midnight, most of the crowd had not budged.

As the protest continued into the early hours of Friday morning, a few hundred people remained in the area. Many dragged sections of fencing erected Thursday morning by officials around Chapman and Lownsdale squares into the streets to use as barricades.

Police again announced at 12:45 a.m. that an unlawful assembly had been declared, as most of the group who had returned to Southeast Precinct continued to stand in the middle of the street, blocking traffic. Officers then dispersed the crowd and made several arrests once again.

Groups dissipated for the most part within the next few hours. No tear gas was used by Portland police.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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