“It is not a solution to tell federal officers to leave when there continues to be attacks on federal property and personnel,” [U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J.] Williams said. ”We are not leaving the building unprotected to be destroyed by people intent on doing so.”
Protesters filled the streets again into the early hours Tuesday, gathering for the 60th night on the city block where the courthouse is located. They were met with tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades fired by the federal agents guarding the building.
Hours after the smoke cleared in Portland, Attorney General William Barr appeared Tuesday in Congress and defended the aggressive federal law enforcement response to civil unrest, saying that “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” sparked by George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Barr told members of the House Judiciary Committee at a much-anticipated election year hearing that the violence in Portland and other cities is disconnected from Floyd’s killing, which he called a “horrible” event that prompted a needed national reckoning on the relationship between the Black community and law enforcement.
“Largely absent from these scenes of destruction are even superficial attempts by the rioters to connect their actions to George Floyd’s death or any legitimate call for reform,” Barr said of the Portland protests.