Activists demand federal officers to withdraw from cities
Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli weighs in.
The goal of “violent anarchists” who are participating in riots in cities across the country is “destruction,” Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli told “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.
Cuccinelli made the statement following another night of rioting and lawlessness in more than half a dozen U.S. cities Saturday – with the mayhem including damage to federal buildings and local police precincts, and a fatal shooting in Austin, Texas.
Similar protests and violent demonstrations have been seen across the country following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minnesota who died while in police custody. A video of the May 25 encounter with police officers showed a White officer putting his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd died later that day.
In Portland, a huge crowd that included the Wall of Moms and the Wall of Vets turned out for yet another day and night of rioting. The largest city in Oregon has seen more than 50 consecutive days of such behavior since Floyd's death.
Early Sunday, rioters broke through a reinforced fence that surrounded the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in the downtown area, OregonLive.com reported.
Federal agents assigned to guard the building deployed tear gas and the Portland police declared the scene a riot around 1:15 a.m. local time, the report said.
On the sidewalk near the Justice Center in Portland, an American flag was set on fire, as thousands of people gathered to protest on Friday night after a U.S. judge denied Oregon’s request to restrict federal agents' actions when they arrest people during protests, Fox 12 reported.
“Burning the American flag is almost an emblem for these people, that appears to be their goal, just destruction,” Cuccinelli said on Sunday.
He added, “These are not peaceful protesters, these are violent anarchists. That’s what we're dealing with.”
He went on to note that Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, who has been vocal about his opposition to federal agents in his city, is trying to “appease” the protesters.
On Wednesday, Wheeler was booed, heckled and called a “fascist” by rioters in Portland as he tried to attend a “listening session” about ongoing unrest – becoming the latest liberal mayor to be shunned by protesters with whom they had sought to show solidarity.
“Many on these politicians on the left think that they can appease these folks,” Cuccinelli said. “Even though they're violent, they’re part of their political base somehow. They're far more destructive than people are giving them credit for, if you will.”
He also explained that “we expanded our presence in Portland because the threat escalated going into the July 4th weekend.”
“That intelligence of a higher threat turned out to be correct,” he added.
DHS CHIEF PROMISES 'WE WILL NOT RETREAT' FROM PORTLAND DESPITE CRITICISM, TELLS RIOTERS 'FIND ANOTHER LINE OF WORK'
Cuccinelli also said that federal officers “are left to defend the courthouse and federal buildings without local cooperation, which is very rare to not have local cooperation at the law enforcement level.” He noted that resulted in “violent acts,” including “laser attacks” on federal agents and “tire puncturing” of their vehicles.
“That is what our officers are facing,” Cuccinelli said.
He added that there have been “two straight months of violence every single day in Portland, partly because their own mayor … ties the hands of his own police.”
On Sunday, Cuccinelli also reacted to a Washington Post op-ed penned by Democrat Barbara Boxer, a former U.S. senator from California, titled, “DHS was a mistake. I regret voting for it.”
“I never imagined that a president would use unconfirmed puppets like acting DHS secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, to terrorize our own citizens in our own country,” she wrote.
“The people being terrorized in Portland are the citizens and business owners down there,” Cuccinelli said in response. “We haven’t gone beyond our federal authority and laws that she has voted for.”
He added, “There are people afraid to go to work there now and understandably so.”
“This is preservation of an area of federal responsibility, in terms of both property and life,” Cuccinelli went on to say. “So for Barbara Boxer to suggest that the Department of Homeland Security is somehow responsible for this is foolish.”
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“This was going on for more than a month every day before we expanded our presence,” he added.
Fox News’ Dom Calicchio and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.
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