Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland, Oregon, doubled down over the weekend on his call for federal enforcement officers to stop defending U.S. government facilities, saying, “We want them to leave.”
The state’s governor, Democrat Kate Brown, likewise said regarding the feds, “We do not want you here.”
The calls for the federal government to evacuate sound a bit like the demands made by South Carolina officials to the federal garrison at Fort Sumter just before the outbreak of the Civil War.
Certainly, violence has been directed at a key federal government facility in Portland, with at least local officials’ complicity through failure to act.
On Sunday, so-called antifa and other “protesters” tore down fencing protecting the Mark Hatfield U.S. Courthouse and then broke into the building and set a fire.
The fence around the Federal Courthouse has been moved by protestors and is being dismantled. #portland #PortlandProtest #portlandprotests #PortlandOregon #PortlandOR #oregon #BLMprotest #PDXprotests #PDX #clypiancoverage pic.twitter.com/j44iofKyK2
— Clypian (@Clypian) July 20, 2020
Federal officers protecting the building responded by exiting it and firing off tear gas to disperse the crowd. They also made some arrests.
The federal officers in front of the courthouse shot off some more tear gas canisters before heading back inside the building. #portland #PortlandProtest #portlandprotests #PortlandOregon #PortlandOR #oregon #BLMprotest #PDXprotests #PDX #clypiancoverage pic.twitter.com/icQm9yYYL8
— Clypian (@Clypian) July 20, 2020
They had the perfect right and responsibility to do so.
All of this echoes what federal troops faced prior to the outbreak of the Civil War in Charleston.
While the state was able to do so with little resistance, for the most part, federal troops manning Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor refused to comply.
When Lincoln announced plans to resupply the fort, a Confederate artillery bombardment was directed at Sumter on April 12, 1861, and the Civil War had begun. Thirty-six hours later, the fort’s commander surrendered.
Granted, local governments are not supporting the attack on the federal courthouse in Portland — but they are not defending the facility, either.
In fact, the state of Oregon filed a lawsuit on Friday seeking a temporary restraining order blocking federal law enforcement officers from being able to make any arrests in relation to the protests.
Wheeler, during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, argued that the mere presence of federal law enforcement is provocative.
“What they are doing is sharply escalating the situation. Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. It’s not helping the situation at all,” he said.
“They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”
Last week, Wheeler called for the federal government to either keep its officers in their buildings or leave the city.
Obviously, there is no way federal law enforcement officers can adequately protect the federal courthouse if they do not go outside of it.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blamed Wheeler and other local officials for the attacks on the courthouse.
He told Fox News on Monday the reason more law enforcement assets were sent was the escalating violence, which began prior to the July 4 weekend.
There now have been protests and riots in Portland for more than 50 days in a row.
“At the end of the day we’re going to protect the courthouse and we’re going to protect our law enforcement officers there,” Wolf said. “It’s our job.”
“DHS is not going to back down from our responsibilities,” he said. “We are not escalating, we are protecting … federal facilities.”
President Donald Trump tweeted on Sunday, “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it.”
“Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators,” he added. “They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”
Journalist Andy Ngô, who has been covering the protests, responded to Trump’s tweet confirming the violent nature of many of the protesters.
“I can’t emphasize enough the weapons antifa bring to the riots. They bring explosives, pipe bombs, machetes, knives, guns, hammers, slingshots, frozen water bottles, lasers & more,” Ngô wrote.
I can’t emphasize enough the weapons antifa bring to the riots. They bring explosives, pipe bombs, machetes, knives, guns, hammers, slingshots, frozen water bottles, lasers & more. And this is what no one wants to admit: violent rioters are protected by the “peaceful” protesters.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 19, 2020
We have not reached pre-Civil War conditions yet, but Trump is right to stand firm on protecting federal property now.
The Oregon governor and the Portland mayor might not care about lawlessness continuing unabated on their streets, but thankfully we have a president who does.
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