Black leaders demanded action in Portland before DHS arrived
The acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Chad Wolf, said on Monday that the protesters in Portland were violent before federal troops arrived in Portland. Local and national press reports prior to the Fourth of July confirm Wolf’s characterization of Portland as a city of the edge.
Wolf was responding to accusations by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler that the presence of federal police was to blame for the increased violence.
“What we know is, before July Fourth, where we saw an escalation of violence in Portland, before that time there was violence ongoing and DHS had very few officers in the city,” Wolf said.
Wolf added that federal police are staying in Portland no matter what the local politicos say.
“DHS is not going to back down from our responsibilities,” Wolf told Fox News. “We are not escalating. We are protecting, again, federal facilities. It’s our job.”
In fact, an Associated Press (AP) report on July 3 confirms Wolf’s memory. Media reports, including the AP report, said Black leaders were arguing that the mostly white-led violence was detracting from their message.
“It has nothing to do with helping Black people. These hoodlums are needlessly scaring neighbors and their children,” said Ron Herndon, a Black activist upset with violence. “At some point, enough is enough.”
The AP report also cited a letter from an unnamed Black leader who condemned the violence by predominantly white protesters.
“He said the problem was with ‘elements’ that were ‘99% white’ and did not represent the Black Lives Matter movement,” reported the AP.
“People in that neighborhood were upset. That’s not something they’re going to tolerate … and they came out and were very vocal,” said Police Chief Chuck Lovell. “I think people sometimes look at the protest movement as one homogeneous group — and there’s definitely a segment here that is very violent.”
In fact, the week prior to the Fourth of July holiday, the Portland Police Bureau said that the protests were growing “more aggressive and violent than those seen in weeks past.”
The comments were a result of an arson attempt on Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct while people were still in the building. The protesters also set fire and damaged Black-owned buildings during clashes with local police, says KGW8.
Black leaders called a press conference to denounce the violence.
“We’ve got to call terrorism, terrorism,” said Pastor Steven Holt. “A distraction from owning the systemic racism that’s brought the community to this point.”
OregonLive said white politicians prefer to “duck the issue” and put out “detached statements that seem to treat Portland as an island unto itself as opposed to the state’s largest city.”
Their lack of leadership has left Black leaders on their own, increasingly anxious about the message the country is seeing in Portland.
“This is NOT the Black Lives Matter movement. This is chaos,” said police reformer Kali Ladd.
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