The White House cast aside protests from local government officials Tuesday about the deployment of armed federal officers to quell protests inside cities that have not requested them as President Trump demands ‘law and order.’
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany provided a legal reference for the action, pointing to a statute that allows the feds to deputize officials to protect federal property, following a clash at a federal courthouse in Portland.
But she did not state what legal authority Trump would exercise to dispatch 150 federal troops to Chicago – among a handful of cities experiencing violent crime where Trump said he would insert federal forces, despite angry pushback from Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
‘It’s egregious what’s happening,’ White House press secretary McEnany said, rattling off a number of incidents where people who joined protests have thrown objects at officers.
‘It’s egregious what’s happening,’ McEnany said, rattling off a number of incidents where people who joined protests have thrown objects at officers.
‘President trump is taking action in Portland, even though you have a Democrat mayor and Democrat governor unwilling to work with us in the situation. We are surging resources along with secretary [Chad] Wolf at DHS and augmenting the federal protective service to safeguard federal property,’ she said.
‘The bottom line is that this president stands with law in order which leads to peace and we will not allow Portland to become the new CHOP like what we saw in Seattle,’ she said, pointing to the self-declared autonomous zone that police broke up after Trump threatened to use federal force.
McEnany faced immediate questioning from reporters about the case of Navy vet Christopher David, who was captured on video getting sprayed in the face by police and beaten with a baton by police.
BY THE BOOK: McEnany pointed to a section of the U.S. code allowing agents to be deputized to protect a federal building
‘I’m aware of the details of that situation … I’d refer you to DHS about the extenuating details,’ she said, calling for the ‘appropriate use of force.’
Asked where Trump got the authority to send feds to U.S. cities that don’t want them, she pointed to 40 U.S. Code 1315, which has the deputization authority.
When a federal courthouse is being lit on fire, commercial fireworks being shot at it,’ it falls ‘pretty well’ within the limits, she said.
She also was grilled on why federal officers have been seen by protests without identification that would inform the public of who they represent.
‘There is insignia indicated that they’re law enforcement,’ she said. ‘They don’t identify themselves to crowds because it would put them at great risks,’ she said.
President Trump has vowed to send troops into a number of cities run by Democrats, saying the ‘radical left’ will ‘destroy’ the country
Trump had defended the actions online, and linked it to attacks on his political rival Joe Biden.
‘The Radical Left Democrats, who totally control Biden, will destroy our Country as we know it. Unimaginably bad things would happen to America,’ Trump tweeted. ‘Look at Portland, where the pols are just fine with 50 days of anarchy. We sent in help. Look at New York, Chicago, Philadelphia. NO!’
McEnany wouldn’t say what agents would be inserted into Chicago, where there was no immediate threat to a federal building, but where gun violence has raged for decades.
‘I think you are getting ahead of the president here,’ she told a reporter. ‘He’s made no announcements as to who’s going where.’
Monday night, hundreds of mothers and fathers sang ‘please don’t shoot me’ at cops in Portland as they formed a ‘Wall of Moms’ in a bid to ‘protect’ as many as 2,000 demonstrators from police.
The crowd gathered outside the Portland Justice Center Monday night initially started out with about 1,000 protesters before quickly doubling in size by 9.45pm.
Demonstrators were shown singing ‘Hands up! Please don’t shoot me’ to the tune of ‘Ring around the Rosie,’ in footage taken of the peaceful protest.
According to Bellingcat reporter, Robert Evans, at some point the protesters ‘tore open the doors of a federal courthouse and then beat back the agents inside’.
Throughout the night, Evans shared a series of tweets and videos about the incidents that occurred during the protest, including how people reportedly ‘forced the federal agents back inside their courthouse’.
Evans tweeted that ‘the crowd is now throwing bottles at their hands as they try to shoot through murder slits’ in a wooden structure built around the courthouse to protect it.
Hundreds of mothers and fathers sang ‘please don’t shoot me’ at cops in Portland as they formed a ‘Wall of Moms’ in a bid to ‘protect’ as many as 2,000 demonstrators from police
The crowd gathered outside the Portland Justice Center Monday night initially started out with about 1,000 protesters before quickly doubling in size by 9.45pm
A masked woman is pictured in a black protest shirt among other demonstrators outside the justice center
Video from Evans appears to show federal agents shooting non-lethal projectiles at protesters.
Monday also marked the third night that the ‘Wall of Moms’ had taken to the streets. The parents were similarly moved to protect protesters Saturday, until federal agents moved in and tear gassed the crowd.
Fathers in orange shirts also came out to protest alongside the mothers who wore yellow.
Marchers representing the Wall of Moms group and another known as PDXDadPod, said they were marching from the Portland Riverfront to the site of the justice center on Southwest Third Avenue.
Speakers at the protest encouraged participants to register and vote. One also gave instructions on how to respond if tear gas and other force was used against the demonstration.
‘Stay together. Stay tight. We do this every night,’ the speaker said.
Speaking on CNN ‘s State of the Union, Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler on Sunday said federal officers ‘are not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave’.
President Donald Trump has decried the demonstrations in Portland, and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blasted the protesters as ‘lawless anarchists’.
‘We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,’ Trump tweeted Sunday. ‘Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!’
Trump said the agents, with the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Justice Department, are on hand to help Portland and restore order at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
Wolf also said on Fox News: ‘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.’
Marchers, including mothers in yellow shirts, returned to Monday’s protest after being tear gassed two days before
Protesters, including members of the ‘wall of moms’ group in yellow, are pictured arriving at the justice center on Monday
Mothers raise their fists as they support a protest against racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, on Monday
A woman wearing a t-shirt saying she is a mom, nurse and grandmother is pictured at Monday’s protest
A protester holds a sign proclaiming ‘ambush the police,’ from the demonstration outside the justice center
Federal officers use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters outside the courthouse early Tuesday morning
Orion Crabb holds his head back while a medic rinses tear gas from his eyes after federal officers dispersed a crowd of protesters from in front of the courthouse early Tuesday morning
Tensions between federal officers and demonstrators escalated Monday night as the two groups faced-off outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse
Federal agents use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland on Monday
The protests now gaining nationwide attention have roiled Portland for 54 nights, ever since George Floyd died after being pinned by the neck for nearly nine minutes by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25.
Many rallies have attracted thousands and been largely peaceful. But smaller groups of up to several hundred people have focused on federal property and local law enforcement buildings, at times setting fires to police precincts, smashing windows and clashing violently with local police.
Trump previously vowed to protect federal property from destruction, prompting his administration to send in federal agents to quell demonstrations.
The Portland Police Bureau used tear gas on multiple occasions until a federal court order banned its officers from doing so without declaring a riot. Now, concern is growing that the tear gas is being used against demonstrators by federal officers instead.
Trump threatened Monday to send more military-garbed law enforcement into US cities to quell anti-racism protests, a move he called necessary security action.
After DHS deployed scores of Border Patrol police and federal marshals – many in combat fatigues – to Portland, Oregon last week, Trump said he could do so in other Democrat-led cities.
The protests now gaining nationwide attention have roiled Portland for 52 nights, ever since George Floyd died after being pinned by the neck for nearly nine minutes by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25
Many rallies have attracted thousands and been largely peaceful. But smaller groups of up to several hundred people have focused on federal property and local law enforcement buildings, at times setting fires to police precincts, smashing windows and clashing violently with local police
A protester flies an American flag while walking through tear gas fired by federal officers during a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse early Tuesday morning
Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters held their phones aloft during a protest Monday night
The crowd of about 2,000 protesters gather at the Multnomah County Justice center for the Black Lives Matter march on Monday
A shield line, made up of protesters with umbrellas and trash cans, advances on federal officers during a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse early Tuesday morning in Portland
A protester kicks in temporary boarding at the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse early Tuesday morning
A federal officer points to a protester while clearing the street in front of the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse on Monday
Federal police moved in on the crowd of more than 2,000 protesters Monday night outside the Portland courthouse
Federal officers were seen using crowd control munitions to disperse protesters outside the Portland courthouse early Tuesday morning
According to reports, DHS was preparing to send 150 paramilitary personnel to Chicago after police there clashed with demonstrators seeking to tear down a statue of Christopher Columbus.
Separately, 63 people were shot and 12 killed over the weekend in ongoing gun violence, according to local media.
‘We’re looking at Chicago, too. We’re looking at New York,’ Trump told reporters.
‘Look at what’s going on. All run by Democrats, all run by very liberal Democrats, all run really by radical left. We can’t let this happen to the city.’
‘I’m going to do something, that I can tell you, because we’re not going to leave New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore,’ he said.
In a statement, DHS said it ‘does not comment on any allegedly leaked operations.’
The ACLU of Oregon has sued in federal court over the agents’ presence in Portland, and the organization’s Chicago branch said it would similarly oppose a federal presence.
State and local authorities, who did not ask for federal help, are awaiting a ruling in a federal lawsuit filed late last week by state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.
She said in court papers that masked federal officers have arrested people off the street, far from the courthouse, with no probable cause – and whisked them away in unmarked cars.
Protesters begin to tear down the window barricades to the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse on Monday
A protester holds his hands in the air while walking past a group of federal officers during a demonstration in front of the courthouse on Monday
The ACLU of Oregon has sued in federal court over the agents’ presence in Portland, and the organization’s Chicago branch said it would similarly oppose a federal presence
Federal officers are seen walking toward protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse after it was breached by protesters on Monday
Federal officers advance upon a band of moms after the courthouse was breached by protesters on Monday
One woman is seen holding a Black Lives Matter sign while another kneels on the pavement with her hands in up during a demonstration in Portland on Monday
Protest organizers led a crowd of about 2,000 people on a march to Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse on Monday
Demonstrators hold their fists in the air while marching past a mural with George Floyd’s last words during a march to the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse on Monday
Protesters hold their cellphones in the air during a Black Lives Matter event in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center on Monday
In response to Trump’s threat to send federal officers to Chicago, the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot said: ‘Secret, federal agents who do not know Chicago, are unfamiliar with the unique circumstances of our neighborhoods and who would operate outside the established infrastructure of local law enforcement would not be effective, regardless of the number, and worse will foment a massive wave of opposition.’
Top leaders in the US House said Sunday they were ‘alarmed’ by the Trump administration’s tactics in Portland and other cities. They’ve called on federal inspectors general to investigate.
The administration’s actions have also received criticism from prominent Republican Sen Rand Paul, of Kentucky, who is from the libertarian-leaning flank of the party.
‘We cannot give up liberty for security. Local law enforcement can and should be handling these situations in our cities but there is no place for federal troops or unidentified federal agents rounding people up at will,’ Paul said in a tweet Monday.
Steve Vladeck, a constitutional law professor at the University of Texas, also weighed in on the placement of the federal officers in Portland.
‘It seems clear that there were at least some federal crimes committed here. But the notion that a handful of federal crimes justifies a substantial deployment of federal law enforcement officers … to show force on the streets is, to my mind, unprecedented.’
‘Federal law enforcement,’Vladeck said, ‘is not a political prop’.
The crowds of demonstrators had begun to dwindle a week ago, and some people in Portland – including Black community leaders – had begun to call for the nightly demonstrations to end.
But by the weekend, the presence of federal troops and Trump’s repeated references to Portland as a hotbed of ‘anarchists’ seemed to give a new life and renewed focus to the nightly demonstrations – and to attract a broader base.
On Sunday night, a crowd estimated at more than 500 people gathered outside the courthouse. That demonstration continued into Monday morning.