The Department of Homeland Security will be deploying a special federal unit trained in riot control across the country to protect federal monuments and statues over the July 4 weekend amid fears of a new wave of “domestic extremist” vandalism.
DHS Secretary Chad Wolf told the Fox News program “Fox & Friends” the idea came following weeks of “lawlessness” in communities, and President Donald Trump has taken “strong action” against the destruction of federal property.
“So, we surged federal resources here into the D.C. area about four weeks ago to put down a lot of these violent protests,” Wolf said Wednesday.
“We have seen a number of arrests. We’ve seen an executive order from the president.”
There was a surge of demonstrations across the country following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for roughly nine minutes during an arrest.
In the midst of these protests, many people have gathered to topple statues and vandalize monuments.
While the protests first targeted Confederate generals and figures, they have quickly spread to target Abraham Lincoln and George Washington as well.
Protesters were recently stopped by law enforcement from trying to topple a statue of former President Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square Park in D.C., Fox News reported.
“And, what the department is doing as we go into this July 4 holiday, we want to make sure that federal properties, federal facilities, buildings, statues, monuments, that the Department of Homeland Security protects, we want to make sure that we have the personnel there and ready,” Wolf said.
“So we’ve pre-deployed. We are pre-deploying teams to certain areas and we will continue to make sure that we have personnel ready to go.”
Rapid Deployment Teams from the Protecting American Communities Task Force will be dispatched to Portland, Oregon; Seattle, Washington; and Washington, D.C., according to a memo obtained by Fox News.
Federal Protective Service presence will also be ramped up this weekend in order to protect facilities from potential challenges.
Wolf said that the Trump administration is also working with the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior in order to create a “coordinated whole-of-government approach.”
“As we look toward not only July 4, but we look toward any other time period after that, we want to make sure that our facilities are protected, the statues and monuments on those facilities are protected, and, of course, the people [who] work in those buildings are protected as well,” he said. “And so, again, the department is leaning in and pre-deploying what we call rapid response teams, rapid deployment teams to these areas.”
The DHS secretary added that while the department is focused on the possibility of foreign adversaries and terrorists trying to take advantage of the domestic violence, there are “really violent extremists and violent anarchists here in the country.”
“We are not going to let these individuals who clearly hate this country continue to terrorize and go after the destruction of federal property, federal monuments. We are here to stop them,” Wolf said.
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