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Trump Jr retweets post saying ‘DOJ is dropping the hammer’ as 74 face federal charges over Portland protests

‘Violent agitators not only delay real reform, but make our community less safe,’ says Oregon US attorney Billy J Williams

James Crump@thejamescrump
Friday 28 August 2020 19:17
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Donald Trump Jr retweeted a post that claimed the Department of Justice is “dropping the hammer,” as 74 protesters face federal charges over Portland demonstrations.

On Friday, the president’s eldest child retweeted a post from former Vice journalist and self described “disaffected Liberal” Tim Pool, which claimed “the DOJ is dropping the hammer” over protest arrests in Portland, Oregon.

Mr Pool’s tweet linked to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office in Oregon, which read: “74 people facing federal charges for crimes committed during Portland demonstrations.”

In the statement, Oregon US attorney Billy J Williams wrote: “Violent agitators have hijacked any semblance of First Amendment protected activity, engaging in violent criminal acts and destruction of public safety.”

He added: “The US Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners are expeditiously working with local and state law enforcement to identify, arrest, and prosecute these individuals that are disrupting the rule of law in our communities and physically attacking our law enforcement officers and destroying property.

“Violent agitators not only delay real reform, but make our community less safe by keeping law enforcement from responding to other critical calls for service.”

Black Lives Matter protests have been taking place in Portland for the last three months, following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis.

Mr Floyd’s death sparked protests in every state in the US in opposition to police brutality against African Americans, and protesters in Portland have called for reform of the city’s police department.

Last month, the Trump administration deployed federal agents to the city, after the federal courthouse became a target of nightly violence.

Portland police have arrested more than 500 people at protests since late May, while the federal agents arrested an additional 100 people during demonstrations at the courthouse last month.

During his speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC) earlier in the week, Mr Trump Jr said that “anarchists have been flooding our streets,” in relation to the Portland protests.

He added that: “Every American must be free to live without the fear of violence in their communities, in their homes,” and said that police forces across the US should not be defunded.

“No matter what the Democrats say, when we dial 911, we can’t have it going to voicemail,” Mr Trump Jr said.

The Trump administration’s decision to deploy federal agents in the city was criticised by mayor Ted Wheeler last month, who told demonstrators: “We don’t want them here,” and added: “We demand that the federal government stop occupying our city.”

However, as the violence increased at some protests over the last month, the mayor called for demonstrators to stop the violence.

After some demonstrators started a fire outside the Police Bureau’s East Precinct building, Mr Wheeler pleaded for violence to stop and said he will not “tolerate” similar actions during future demonstrations.

“When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people who you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Mr Wheeler said.

The mayor added: “I believe that city staff could have died last night. I cannot and I will not tolerate that. This is not peaceful protests. This is not advocacy to advance reforms.”

However, violence has continued during some protests in the city, and 23 arrests were made on Monday, as Portland authorities declared a riot when fires were started outside of its North Precinct.

In a press release about the federal charges filed on Friday, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Seattle, Eben Roberts, claimed the community in Portland needs to work together.

The special agent said: “Progress can only be made if community leaders, law enforcement and the public come together in the name of social change, justice and peace.”

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