Cyber-wellness Means Cyber-awareRead more Addressing maternal mental healthcare in AfricaRead more Qatar v. Ecuador to kick off FIFA World Cup 2022™ on 20 NovemberRead more Webb Fontaine Announces Launch of Niger National Single Window (NNSW) to Bolster TradeRead more Ethiopia: Loan from United Nations Fund Allows Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Scale Up Fertilizers for Farmers in TigrayRead more How Choosing the Right Printer Helps Small Businesses and Content Creators to Save Time, Maximise Productivity and Achieve GrowthRead more The United States Contributes USD $223 Million to Help World Food Programme (WFP) Save Lives and Stave Off Severe Hunger in South SudanRead more Eritrea: World Breastfeeding WeekRead more Eritrean community festival in Scandinavian countriesRead more IOM: Uptick in Migrants Heading Home as World Rebounds from COVID-19Read more

US government watchdogs to probe federal crackdowns in Portland, DC

Print Friendly and PDF

Jul 24, 2020 - 01:23 AM

LOS ANGELES — The US Justice Department’s independent watchdog announced Thursday it was launching probes into the use of force by federal agents in Portland, Oregon, and the US capital.

The move comes following outrage by members of Congress, as well as rights activists and the public, over daily violent clashes in Portland between federal forces and demonstrators protesting against racism and police brutality.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his office has opened an investigation into the civil unrest, which escalated in the past week following reports of camouflaged federal agents using force and snatching people from the streets of the western city and putting them into unmarked cars.

A separate review is being conducted over a crackdown against protesters in the US capital’s Lafayette Square on June 1 near the White House, ahead of a photo op by President Donald Trump in front of a church.

The Department of Homeland Security, whose law enforcement agents have come under fierce criticism for their behavior in Portland, said its internal watchdog was also conducting a probe.

Horowitz said investigators will “examine the DOJ’s and its law enforcement components’ roles and responsibilities in responding to protest activity and civil unrest in Washington, DC, and in Portland, Oregon over the prior two months.”

“The review will include examining the training and instruction that was provided to the DOJ law enforcement personnel; compliance with applicable identification requirements, rules of engagement, and legal authorities; and adherence to DOJ policies regarding the use of less-lethal munitions, chemical agents, and other uses of force,” Horowitz added.

“Reckless administration” 

He said his office will coordinate its probe with the Department of Homeland Security’s watchdog.

US lawmakers welcomed the investigations with the chairs of the Judiciary, Homeland Security and Oversight demanding answers to the use of federal forces to “suppress, teargas and beat peaceful protesters and American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.”

“Congress will continue to check this reckless Administration, but it is deeply important that these independent inspectors general get to the bottom of President Trump’s use of force against his own citizens,” they said in a statement.

Early Thursday morning, the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was teargassed in the downtown area as he met with the protesters.

Video footage showed Wheeler wearing goggles and a face mask surrounded by a large crowd. He held his nose and closed his eyes amid clouds of gas and fireworks exploding nearby.

“This is an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers,” Wheeler told The New York Times.

“This is flat-out urban warfare.”

He said he had seen nothing that justified the police response.

“I’m not afraid but I am pissed off,” he said.

The protests were initially sparked by the killing of George Floyd, an African American man who died at the hands of Minnesota police on May 25. Similar demonstrations have taken place across the country.

Trump has justified the deployment of the federal officers, saying they were needed to protect federal property and to restore order.

He has described the protesters as “anarchists and agitators” and has vowed to send federal officers to more US cities.

MAORANDCITIES.COM uses both Facebook and Disqus comment systems to make it easier for you to contribute. We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. All comments should be relevant to the topic. By posting, you agree to our Privacy Policy. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, name-calling, foul language or other inappropriate behavior. Please keep your comments relevant and respectful. By leaving the ‘Post to Facebook’ box selected – when using Facebook comment system – your comment will be published to your Facebook profile in addition to the space below. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the “X” in the upper right corner of the Facebook comment box to report spam or abuse. You can also email us.