At Request of Oregon Delegation, DHS and DOJ Offices of Inspector General Open Investigations into Federal Operatives in Portland

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, today announced that at their request, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offices of Inspector General (OIG) are opening investigations into the unrequested presence and violent actions of recently deployed federal forces in Portland.

The delegation yesterday sent a letter formally requesting the investigations, following federal operatives shooting a peaceful protester in the head, causing serious injury and hospitalization; reports and video recordings of unmarked federal agents grabbing protesters from the streets and taking them to unmarked minivans, apparently without probable cause; agents pepper spraying and breaking the hand of a Navy veteran; and nightly use of teargas and munitions against peaceful protesters.

“Unidentified forces in military fatigues using tear gas and weapons against peaceful protesters are scenes from an authoritarian crackdown, and have absolutely no place in America,” Merkley said. “We have demanded not only that these acts end, but also that DOJ and DHS remove their forces immediately from Oregon. In the meantime, full investigations by the Inspectors General of these departments will help provide critical information and public accountability at a time when the Trump administration would rather operate like a dictatorship than employees of the people in a democratic republic.”

“The violent tactics deployed by Donald Trump and his paramilitary forces against peaceful protesters are those of a fascist regime, not a democratic nation,” Wyden said. “This gross abuse of power demands intense scrutiny to put an end to what Donald Trump is doing in my hometown against my neighbors and friends, and make sure it doesn’t happen anywhere else.”

“There is no excuse for the violent and unlawful tactics that this administration has used against my constituents in Portland. This was a made-for-TV provocation and it must stop now,” Blumenauer said. “I’m glad that Inspectors General at DHS and DOJ have granted our request for independent investigations. We need to know how these abuses of power were allowed to happen and what can be done to stop President Trump and his cronies from deploying more federal law enforcement officers across the country.”

“The militarized federal forces Trump sent to Portland have ignited fear and violence in our community,” Bonamici said. “The unidentified officers and their tear gas, abductions, batons, and bullets are endangering Oregonians. The administration and the federal officers who have engaged in violent clashes against protestors exercising their First Amendment rights must be held accountable for their actions. I am encouraged that the Inspectors General at DHS and DOJ have heeded our call for investigations, and we will continue to demand answers.”

Offices of Inspectors General provide independent oversight of federal agencies. In their request, the Oregon delegation asked the Inspectors General of both DHS and DOJ provide full and comprehensive investigations into the deployment of federal law enforcement agents in Portland, and provide a detailed explanation about:

  • The chain of command that governs these tactical response teams;
  • Their training and safety protocols on use of crowd control tactics and weaponry;
  • Their directives to apprehend civilians in downtown Portland;
  • Their coordination with local law enforcement officials and elected representatives, if any; and
  • The intent of these tactics.

Since the Trump administration deployed federal agents to Portland, the delegation has also demanded answers about federal agents’ use of force; demanded that Attorney General William Barr and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf remove their forces from Oregon; and introduced a bill that would block the Trump administration from deploying federal forces as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans.