A Senate committee brought in Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf to try to get answers on the agency’s personnel deployments to protest areas, particularly Portland, Oregon.
Watch the hearing in the player above.
“I do not dispute that the situation in Portland required a response. We can’t allow a small number of bad actors who want to instigate violence or harm law enforcement personnel, take advantage of a peaceful demonstration,” said ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee Gary Peters.
“However, DHS chose a response to the situation on the ground that I think is unacceptable. Instead of working together with state and local partners, you sent a surge of federal personnel who did not have proper training to de-escalate a situation.”
The high-profile clashes outside a U.S. courthouse in Portland have largely stopped since Democratic Gov. Kate Brown reached a deal that called for the draw down of federal agents sent by President Donald Trump.
“Often there’s officers there that are putting their life in danger,” said Wolf. “They’re getting injured. What I don’t hear is any appreciation for that.”
Portland demonstrators tossed fireworks, flares, rocks, ball bearings and bottles at the armored federal agents and tried to bring down a fence protecting the courthouse.
U.S. agents responded each night with multiple rounds of tear gas, pepper balls and rubber bullets in an escalation of violence that led to injuries to demonstrators and federal agents.
“When you encourage disdain for police, you encourage criminals,” said committee chair Sen. Ron Johnson. “When you do little or nothing to stop riots, you unleash anarchy. And when you encourage criminals and unleash anarchy, people die and all of us suffer.”
The Portland protests have happened for 69 consecutive days since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.
The clashes prompted Trump to send federal agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to guard the courthouse – a move that was intended to quell the unrest but instead reinvigorated demonstrators and created a focal point for the protests each night.