DOJ Watchdog Probing Federal Response To Protests In Portland, D.C.


The Justice Department’s internal watchdog said Thursday that he had opened investigations examining whether federal officers used excessive force against protesters in Portland, Oregon, as well as how federal authorities handled protests near the White House last month.

Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz said he’d work with the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general on an investigation on specific use-of-force incidents by federal agents responding to protests in Portland, which have drawn national scrutiny in recent days.

More broadly, Horowitz said he would examine the overall federal response both in Portland and in Washington, D.C., since the police killing of George Floyd in late May. Federal agents from a variety of law enforcement components, under the close watch of Attorney General William Barr, deployed chemical munitions against an overwhelmingly peaceful crowd in Washington’s Lafayette Square ahead of President Donald Trump’s photo-op in front of a church.

President Donald Trump holds up a Bible alongside Attorney General William Barr (left), White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, outside of St. John’s Episcopal church across Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. on June 1.

A vast array of unidentified federal agents from various law enforcement components also responded to the unrest in Washington, including federal prison guards with no training on handling crowds outside of a detention scenario.

“The review will include examining the training and instruction that was provided to the DOJ law enforcement personnel; compliance with applicable identification requirements, rules of engagement, and legal authorities; and adherence to DOJ policies regarding the use of less-lethal munitions, chemical agents, and other uses of force,” the inspector general’s office said in a statement.

In the case of Lafayette Square, the inspector general would coordinate with the the inspector general at the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Park Police officers involved in the aggressive law enforcement response in Lafayette Square.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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