PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Tensions over protests in Portland seem to be growing between the federal government and state and local leaders.
On Thursday, acting secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf issued a blistering statement about how things have been handled by the city and state. Hours later, he was spotted outside the federal courthouse, seeing first-hand the damage and graffiti-painted walls of the building.
In his statement released Thursday morning, Wolf wrote:
The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.
It went on to read:
This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them.
Later Thursday evening, Wolf appeared on the Fox News show ‘Hannity’ to talk about his visit to Portland and tour of the damage and vandalism to the federal courthouse.
“We’re not going to have these violent anarchists who show up about the same time every night for a series of hours and having that destruction to federal property,” Wolf said. "It’s time that we take a stand, it’s time that the local leaders here publicly condemn what the anarchists are doing, and only then will local police and federal police get this under control."
Night after night for more than a month and a half, protesters have taken to the streets of Portland. At times, tensions escalate and violence breaks out between protesters and police. In recent days, federal officers have made arrests and used force against protesters.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s Office says he and Wolf spoke earlier this week. In a statement, the mayor said:
We do not need or want their help. The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether. Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely.
Thursday afternoon, Wheeler took to Twitter, where he said he was aware the acting secretary was in town. He said they would not be meeting even if he was asked.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has also weighed in on federal police in Portland. Her office released a statement Thursday that read, in part:
I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets. His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.
FOX 12 also reached out to the Oregon Republican Party for its take on the heightened presence of federal officers in Portland and acting secretary Wolf’s visit to the city.
Communications Director Kevin Hoar said that the Oregon Republican Party supports bringing more federal officers into Portland.
“It’s frightening to see what’s happened to some of the areas of the city,” Hoar said. “This a moment for the city to decide do they want lawless anarchists deciding what happens in their city, destroying property, devastating businesses or do they want to have the Rose City? The beautiful city that we love.”
Read the full Homeland Security Statement online here.
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