“If you are a violent rioter looking to inflict damage on federal property or law enforcement officers, you need to find another line of work,” said Wolf during a press conference. “We will not retreat, we will continue to protect our facilities and our law enforcement officers.”
Wolf's remarks were made in response to mounting criticism from local and state politicians about their “unwanted” presence in Portland. Some of the criticisms have even alleged that federal officers were arresting suspects by snatching them up and taking them away in unmarked vehicles. While most of the voices denouncing the DHS have come from the Democratic Party, even Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, a Republican, has spoken out against the alleged act.
Furthermore, Billy J. Williams, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, has called for an inspector general to step up and begin an investigation into the reports.
For his part, Wolf simply dismissed the criticism by saying “The smear attacks leveled against our officers is disgusting.” (Related: Federal agents stand off with rioters in Portland who lit fires and tried to break into the Federal Courthouse.)
“These police officers are not storm troopers. They are not Gestapo,” Wolf said, in response to criticism that some of the federal agents, some of whom work for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), are pointlessly wearing military uniforms. In response to this, the acting secretary explained that the federal agents wear military gear because they work in an environment that demands it.
Wolf also said that federal agents are only targeting and arresting people who they deem to have been involved in “criminal activity,” and that he fully supports the right of peaceful protests to make their voices heard. The acting secretary even said that federal agents will be helping protect these peaceful protesters from the violent agitators, who Wolf says transform these peaceful protests into organized violent riots.
“They have one mission in mind: to burn down or to cause extreme damage to the Federal Courthouse and to law enforcement officers.”
Wolf is referring to the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse which, along with the Multnomah County Justice Center that is protected by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), has been the focus of Antifa and BLM's nightly battles with law enforcement.
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The presence of federal officers in Portland is necessary because the PPB do not have the resources or the manpower to continue battling Antifa and BLM every night. In fact, because of the ongoing riots, the Portland police's response times have significantly decreased.
According to the data, the PPB responded to 473 burglaries in June alone. This is an extremely significant increase, compared to the 401 burglaries they responded to during June of 2017, 2018 and 2019 combined.
“There's a lot of opportunity for people who are looking to steal, because they know that [the PPB's] response time, even if you have an alarm ... the police aren't going to be here [fast enough] even on a good day,” said Pat Marken, the owner of a jewelry store which was recently robbed of around $8,000 worth of jewelry. The burglar used a crowbar to break a window and get into the store. Once he was in, he cleared out several cases filled with jewelry and left. The whole incident lasted less than 10 minutes.
The average police response time between June and July for high-priority burglaries is now 16 minutes, which represents a 150 percent increase. For June and July of 2017, 2018 and 2019, it only took the PPB an average of six minutes to respond to similar calls.
The increase in response times has also been noticed for low-priority burglaries, which used to take the PPB 53 minutes to respond to between June and July of the three previous years. Since June 1 of this year, however, it has taken them an average of an hour and 15 minutes.
A spokesperson for the PPB told KATU that the demonstrations in the Downtown Portland neighborhood require most of the bureau's attention every night, which is why they are unable to respond to criminal situations in other parts of the city more quickly. The spokesperson added that the PPB addresses life-threatening calls first and everything else comes second to them.
“The PPB does not have a singular focus on demonstrations; however, they are a significant draw on our already limited resources,” said Andrew Shearer, assistant chief of the PPB's Investigation Branch. “We make every attempt to respond to each call that comes into the PPB in a timely manner. We balance the need to respond to life safety situations versus lower priority calls as a result of actions by criminal actors related to these demonstrations.”
Without the federal agents converging in Downtown Portland to supplement the overworked officers of the PPB, their response times will no doubt be even higher than what they are now.
Find out more about the latest events related to rioters in Portland and in other parts of the United States by reading the articles at Rioting.news.