A Democratic congressman representing Portland, Oregon, said the riots in the city — which have gone on for over 50 consecutive days and have resulted in police being attacked with mortars, lasers, clubs, and bottles — are "not out of control."
Rather, there are simply "some people who have strong feelings," Rep. Earl Blumenauer said Tuesday during a floor speech in Washington, D.C.
"Portland, Oregon, is not out of control. To be sure there are some people who have strong feelings," Blumenauer said. "There are some who have done things that are inappropriate and unlawful, but that is the challenge of our local officials and our state officials to manage it, not having somebody unwelcome, uninvited, and unprepared coming in to take this difficult situation and make it worse."
What's the background?
Protests in Portland have raged for nearly two months since the death of George Floyd over Memorial Day weekend in Minneapolis, often devolving into violent chaos.
Much of the violence has surrounded the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in the city, where protesters have graffitied the building, torn down fencing, and lit fires for weeks. Lately, rioters have assaulted officers attempting to defend the building using fireworks and high intensity lasers, injuring some.
Over the weekend, Portland police said "dozens of people with shields, helmets, gas masks, umbrellas, bats, and hockey sticks approached the doors" of the courthouse.
Police Superintendent David Brown said that 49 officers were injured during the riots on Friday. Eighteen officers were sent to the hospital, including one who suffered a broken eye socket when an explosive thrown toward police detonated.
Yet Democrats refuse help
Yet during the speech, Blumenauer joined fellow Democratic leaders in arguing against President Trump sending federal officers to the city to quell the riots.
The president, viewing some of the protesters as anarchists and agitators, ordered federal officers to the city in recent weeks.
Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler slammed the move calling it "a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government" and has argued that the presence of federal officers has "sharply escalat[ed] the situation."
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) added: "Trump and [Secretary of Homeland Security] Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media."
Even the state's Democratic governor, Kate Brown, has chimed in, tweeting, "This is a democracy, not a dictatorship. We cannot have secret police abducting people in unmarked vehicles. I can't believe I have to say that to the President of the United States."
The "secret police" allegedly "abducting people" are U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection's BORTAC officers deployed to protect federal property.