As federal officers prolong an unwanted incursion into Portland to quash street protests, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf received a cold shoulder from local leaders.
Mayor Ted Wheeler was joined by nearly every major figure in Oregon government in rebuffing Wolf, who arrived for a photo opportunity where he toured graffiti scrawled on the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse and decried the "violent anarchists" who defaced it. His visit was part of a crackdown orchestrated by President Donald Trump in an election year to quell protests—an experiment that has included arrests made via rental car and a protester shot in the face with a munition.
Among the few people who did chat with Wolf? Portland police officers.
A photo posted by Wolf on social media this morning shows him meeting with an officer wearing a Portland Police Bureau insignia on his arm. It appears to be an informal meeting inside the federal courthouse. "These valiant men and women have defended our institutions of justice against violent anarchists for 48 straight days," Wolf captioned it. "We will prevail."
These valiant men and women have defended our institutions of justice against violent anarchists for 48 straight days. We will prevail. pic.twitter.com/Qo9XoCyH2N— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 17, 2020
At a press conference this afternoon, reporters asked whether Portland police officers had met with Wolf. Police Chief Chuck Lovell said he didn't know.
Shortly after the press conference ended, the Police Bureau issued a statement amending Lovell's remarks—and saying Officer Daryl Turner, head of the Portland Police Association, had met with Wolf. Turner's police union has repeatedly been the target of protesters who march to its headquarters on North Lombard Street.
Turner did not immediately respond to a request from WW for comment. He told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he encouraged Wolf to get input from local police on how the feds responded. "Everybody discussed different things. My part of the discussion was, I hope they would make a connection with PPB and Chief Lovell to coordinate how they work together," Turner said.
The person in the photo with Wolf, however, is not Turner. Neither the mayor's office nor the Police Bureau could immediately answer who the person was.
The question of whether police are meeting with Homeland Security is significant because local elected officials have spurned federal assistance but have not clarified if and to what degree local and federal law enforcement continue to coordinate their response to nightly demonstrations. The White House created a new task force, staffed by U.S. Border and Customs Enforcement officers, to protect federal buildings and monuments. It's not clear if that task force has any communication with local police agencies.
Meanwhile, both federal and local police forces confronted protesters last night, on both sides of the Willamette River. In downtown, federal officers used tear gas to scatter a crowd near the courthouses. On Northeast 47th Avenue and Burnside Street, Portland police charged a crowd of demonstrators and arrested a local journalist, regular WW correspondent Andrew Jankowski.
Jankowski tells WW he was standing in the street when officers charged, and identified himself as media before his arrest.
"While I didn't see the two people who pushed me, they felt like they were wearing armor," he says. "I am underweight and fell quickly. There is an ongoing restraining order keeping PPB from interfering with journalists, and I don't understand how my arresting officer couldn't have known I am a journalist."