PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The head of the Department of Homeland Security has visited Portland, after issuing a scathing statement that called protesters in the liberal city “violent anarchists.”
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said Thursday that local officials are to blame for not putting an end to what he called “a siege” by protesters who have demonstrated outside the federal courthouse for nearly two months.
Federal officers sent to Portland by the Trump administration have escalated tensions.
One fired a less-lethal round at a protester’s head, critically injuring him.
The mayor and other local officials say they didn’t ask for help from federal law enforcement and have asked them to leave.
Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it,” Wolf wrote.
“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,” his statement said.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local officials have said they didn’t ask for help from federal law enforcement and have asked them to leave.
“A number of people have asked if I know DHS leadership is in town, and if I’m going to meet with them. We’re aware that they’re here. We wish they weren’t. We haven’t been invited to meet with them, and if we were, we would decline,” Wheeler tweeted Thursday.