PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams released the following statement today on federal law enforcement’s response to ongoing protests in Portland:
“The overarching goal of law enforcement is public protection and, during tense and dangerous situations, de-escalation. Federal law enforcement officers protecting the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse and other federal buildings have been operating with those two critical goals. Night after night for the past 50 nights, they have protected the federal courthouse from incursion and fire. They have rebuffed efforts to enter the building by force and have been met with an onslaught of commercial fireworks, laser strikes, glass, mortars, paint, and anything else near at hand. They have endeavored to find the individuals within the crowd who are committing these violent acts and arrest them in a manner that is safe for both the officers and nearby non-violent protesters.
In limited instances, their conduct has been questioned and the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General appropriately opened an investigation into the use of less lethal ammunition directed at a protestor last week.
Based on news accounts circulating that allege federal law enforcement detained two protestors without probable cause, I have requested the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to open a separate investigation directed specifically at the actions of DHS personnel.
As U.S. Attorney, I will continue to work in concert with local and federal law enforcement and city and community leaders to bring about an end to this violence.”