Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf renewed the federal government’s office of help in quashing violent riots in Portland but said Wednesday local leaders in the Oregon city appear more interested in trying to appease a mob.
As rioters have attacked the federal courthouse in the city, sparking clashes with federal authorities on the scene, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has told the feds to either stay inside or leave town altogether, blaming them for “the violence … brought to our streets in recent days.”
Mr. Wheeler added insult to his demands, saying he told Mr. Wolf in a conversation Tuesday that Homeland Security needed to clean up the graffiti protesters had splashed on federal buildings.
“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether,” he said.
Mr. Wolf said that was an unacceptable response.
“Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day,” he said.
And he rejected Mr. Wheeler’s butt-out attitude.
“DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them,” he said.
The city and Homeland Security have clashed for years, with violent protests against a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building erupting in 2018, and Mr. Wheeler refusing to deploy city police to help calm the situation.
It was weeks before those protesters were ousted and access to the building was restored.
In this case, racial justice demonstrations have raged for 47 days, Mr. Wolf said. He said it’s time to bring them under control.
“This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law,” he said.
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