For days, reporters and protesters have observed federal agents at Portland's nightly protests. But it remained unclear who had ordered them to Portland.
A July 9 report by the Associated Press asserts that one of the federal agencies, the Department of Homeland Security, was deployed to Portland following President Donald Trump's June 26 executive order to protect monuments.
"Once we surged federal law enforcement officers to Portland, the agitators quickly got the message," a DHS senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the AP.
The report says Homeland Security officers were deployed to Seattle, Portland and Washington, D.C., following Trump's executive order.
Since at least July 2, federal agents have been present at Portland protests. Those agencies include DHS, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Federal agents have made at least 10 arrests at Portland protests, many over the July 4 weekend.
Days after the executive order, during his July 3 Mount Rushmore speech, Trump decried "the violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats," as well as the "merciless campaign to wipe out our history," the AP reported.
That same day, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Oregon announced federal agents had arrested one man who they say tagged the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse on July 2.
"The lawless and violent acts of extremists across the political spectrum cannot continue," U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams said in a July 3 news release. "Violence directed at federal, state and local law enforcement and property destruction [are] inconsistent with the aims of social justice. These are criminal acts, and individuals who engage in them will be held accountable."
Williams works under the auspices of U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr and, therefore, under the Trump administration.
During a press conference Wednesday, Portland Police Bureau Deputy Chief Chris Davis said the city has little control over federal agencies' tactics when covering protests, and that PPB does not coordinate with federal agents.
"That wasn't something that we asked for," Davis said. "I don't have authority to order federal officers to do things.…We're in charge of our assets, and they're in charge of theirs."
He added that the city and the feds follow two separate chains of command, despite both entities patrolling city streets.
In an email to WW, Mayor Ted Wheeler's office distanced itself from the actions of federal law enforcement agencies.
"Federal Protective Service (FPS) is enforcing federal laws and protecting federal facilities, reports only to their chain of command, the Department of Homeland Security, and we are respecting their jurisdictional rights," the mayor's spokesman said. "FPS is not embedded with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) nor is PPB embedded with FPS."
The decision to deploy federal officers to Portland follows recent calls by Trump to tamp down on what he termed "mayhem" continuing across liberal cities.
In Portland, an uprising against police brutality and racism has continued for over six weeks. On some nights, PPB has declared a riot after protesters lit fires and attempted to barricade government buildings. Last month, Portland protesters toppled the statue of Thomas Jefferson at Jefferson High School.
The Department of Homeland Security typically focuses on foreign terrorist threats and securing the nation's borders. But it has identified property damage in Portland as a national security threat for at least three years.
In 2017, WW obtained a memo DHS sent to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), which confirmed the feds were classifying property damage by left-wing protesters as "domestic terrorism."
"Rioting by violent anarchist extremists at events [last November] met the criteria" for terrorism, then acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis Patricia F.S. Cogswell wrote to Wyden. "DHS has a duty to report and analyze such acts of ideologically motivated violence."