Watchdogs at DHS, Justice to probe actions against protesters
- By FederalSoup Staff
- Jul 24, 2020
The Trump administration's use of federal law enforcement agents against protestors in Washington, D.C., and Portland, Ore., has attracted the attention of the inspectors general of the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security.
On June 1, President Donald Trump ordered federal law enforcement agencies to deploy to Washington, D.C., to police ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd. Agents assigned to restore order to the nation’s capital were from FBI, Secret Service, Park Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons, U.S. Marshals Service, Capitol Police, Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol units and others, Attorney General Bill Barr confirmed.
In Portland, a force of 114 federal officers participating in “Operation Diligent Valor" were assigned to protect federal buildings after protesters attempted to set fire to the Mark Hatfield Federal Courthouse, according to Politico. The federal agents involved come from DHS’ Federal Protective Service, Immigration and ICE and CBP. Personnel from the Justice Department’s Marshals Service, which has responsibility for protecting federal judges and courthouses, were also involved, FPS Northwest Regional Director Gabriel Russell told Politico.
The investigations were announced after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y), Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to both IGs demanding they look into the recent actions of federal law enforcement personnel.
In his response, DHS IG Joseph Cuffari wrote that his office had opened an investigation into allegations that DHS officers improperly detained and transported protesters in Portland and will form a multi-disciplinary team to examine the agency’s deployment of law enforcement personnel, evaluating the roles and responsibilities of DHS component agencies.
Similarly, the DOJ IG’s office will look into roles and responsibilities of its component agencies. “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,” DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz wrote.
Thompson also announced a July 31 hearing on the DHS’ police actions in Portland and has invited acting Secretary Chad Wolf to testify.