At least 38 law enforcement officers who responded to the weeks-long riots in Portland have had their personal details posted online, according to Deputy Director of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) Richard Cline.
Cline told reporters on July 21 that federal officers have been told to cover the names on their uniforms due to the personal details of more than three dozen officers having been being exposed online, a tactic called doxxing.
Members of the Antifa extremist group, anarchists and other radicals have carried out violence in Portland for 52 consecutive nights, Cline said. The rioters have recently shifted their focus on attacking federal facilities, mainly the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.
The initial attacks on the courthouse quickly overwhelmed the regular staff assigned to protect the building. The Department of Homeland Security then reassigned some Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to the courthouse to reinforce security there.
The Border Patrol and ICE officers deployed in Portland wear camouflage uniforms because they have been called from regular duty on the southwest border, where the uniforms are their daily attire, according to Chad Wolf, the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The uniforms have prompted some left-wing pundits to refer to the officers as “storm troopers” and “gestapo.” Wolf dismissed the allegations as “smear attacks” and “disgusting.”
“These officers are not military,” Wolf said. “They are civilian police officers.”
The DHS began responding to attacks targeting federal property in late May on the heels of the death of George Floyd.
In Portland, federal authorities recently erected barriers and shielded the courthouse with plywood. The rioters destroyed the barriers and tore down the plywood. The attackers have repeatedly attempted to breach the courthouse and have thrown explosive fireworks inside.
The violence near the courthouse escalated after midnight on July 20 with protestors throwing glass bottles and shooting fireworks at the federal officers. The rioters who show up every night carry lasers, baseball bats, explosive fireworks, metal pipes, glass bottles, flammables and other weapons, according to Wolf.
Three federal officers received eye injuries from the lasers and may not recover their sight, Cline said. The federal officers now wear protective glasses to prevent injuries from the lasers.
The unrest in Portland follows a daily cycle, according to Cline. From roughly 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., peaceful protesters assemble and demonstrate. After midnight, violence organized by agitators breaks out. The federal response to the violence has as a result been wrongly described as targeting peaceful protests.
“We support and we will protect those who want to peacefully protest. Unfortunately what we are seeing in Portland every night, roughly from midnight to 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m., is the complete opposite,” Wolf said.
“These individuals are organized and they have one mission in mind, to burn down or to cause extreme damage to the federal courthouse and the law enforcement officers.”
Wolf criticized the local authorities in Portland for taking little or no action to disperse the rioters.
The mayor of Portland blamed the violence on the federal authorities, Wolf said, adding that “rational people know that is not true.”
According to Wolf, the DHS officers in Portland have largely taken on defensive tactics, but have also been forced to make arrests. Responding to criticism about arrests which have taken place outside federal properties, Wolf cited a Congressional statute which authorizes the DHS to conduct investigations and make arrests on or off the property where the crime in question took place.
“We are expressly allowed to leave federal property to conduct investigations and arrest individuals who have damaged federal property,” Wolf said.
FPS made seven arrests on July 20. The service has recorded 260 at federal facilities across the country, including gunfire and arson. Two officers have been shot and one killed in the attacks, Cline said.