Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf set the record straight on the violent antifa riots in Portland in his 2020 State of the Homeland speech on Wednesday. He explained just how dangerous the riots had been for federal law enforcement and he excoriated Gov. Kate Brown (D-Ore.) and Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland) for refusing to cooperate with federal officers as they protected the federal courthouse from rioters. Wolf also condemned the ridiculous assertion that the violence in Portland has been “mostly peaceful.”
“Some politicians and media figures have brazenly characterized the extreme violence in Portland as ‘mostly peaceful.’ Our Constitution protects the natural right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. The Department supports the exercise of everyone’s First Amendment rights,” Wolf insisted. “There is, however, no Constitutional right to loot, to burn, or to assault law enforcement officers or your fellow citizens.”
“Let me be clear, those who seek to undermine our democratic institutions, indiscriminately destroy businesses, and attack law enforcement officers and fellow citizens are a threat to the Homeland,” the DHS head declared. “The Department has experienced this firsthand in Portland, Oregon, where violent opportunists repeatedly targeted and attempted to burn down a federal courthouse – the seat of justice in downtown Portland.”
Wolf insisted that federal law is “unequivocal” that it “compels action.” The Federal Protective Service protects nearly 9,000 federal properties across the country. “In almost every one of those areas, we receive assistance from local officials when federal buildings are targeted and attacked. Unfortunately, this cooperation did not happen in Portland.”
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Instead, Wolf charged that “local leadership played partisan politics with public safety, allowing attempts of arson and violence against federal law enforcement officers, and the destruction of federal property to occur with impunity.”
If Americans had any doubt that the riots were violent, the DHS head erased such doubt. “For nearly two months, while defending the federal courthouse, our federal officers were assaulted with sledgehammers, commercial-grade fireworks, rocks, metal pipes, IEDs, and more. As Portland officials refused to cooperate with DHS, our law enforcement officers suffered over 240 separate injuries.”
“After 60 days of this violence, the Governor of Oregon finally offered the assistance of state law enforcement. To be clear – that offer should have happened on the 1st day of violence, not the 60th,” Wolf declared.
Americans support law enforcement
Wolf also insisted that Americans oppose the “delusion” of defunding and abolishing the police and law enforcement.
“The vast majority of reasonable Americans are also proud of the work of law enforcement,” he said. “We cannot and must not fall victim to the delusion of a fringe minority of Americans who are opposed to the honorable men and women who wear the badge and swear to protect our communities. Americans see the violence against our officers and are not falling for this false narrative.”
“To our law enforcement colleagues watching today: I could not be prouder of your sacrifice and professionalism,” the DHS head added.
“It has been disappointing to see so-called ‘experts’ criticize our response in Portland without knowing the facts on the ground. It’s unsettling that these self-appointed experts rush to criticize the uniformed men and women of DHS working to save lives and defend federal property, even before they condemn the violent behavior of a rioting mob,” Wolf said.
“Scoring cheap political points by abandoning those risking their lives to preserve law and order should never be the way our Homeland Security community operates,” he promised.
Wolf quoted President Theodore Roosevelt in saying, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood.”
“Every day, DHS professionals are in that arena while others sit on the sidelines and criticize. They have that right, and DHS law enforcement proudly helps ensure they can exercise that right safely,” the acting secretary declared.
COVID and China
Wolf also praised President Donald Trump’s efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic and explained DHS’s role in the effort.
“President Trump’s decisive and rapid action led our federal government to pursue a Whole-of-America response, which continues to deliver results through a locally-executed, state-managed, and federally-supported strategy,” the acting secretary explained.
Wolf praised the efforts of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a division of DHS. “FEMA’s tireless efforts implementing critical initiatives–those saving lives and those replenishing lost wages–deserve our highest commendation,” he said. “FEMA was essentially responding to a category 5 hurricane in every state, territory, and the District of Columbia – all at the same time.”
Under Trump’s direction, FEMA “utilized the Defense Production Act to procure more than 220 million respirators from 3M, saving American lives.” Trump also authorized FEMA to use $44 billion from the Disaster Relief fund to “alleviate the effects of lost wages, allowing states to make supplemental payments to those receiving unemployment insurance compensation.” As of September 8, the agency had provided more than $29 billion to 47 states for Lost Wages Assistance.
Wolf also explained that DHS implemented Trump’s early travel restrictions on China and on 30 other countries to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Other DHS components worked with private sector partners, curated COVID-19 scientific data, investigated financial fraud around the virus, and identified counterfeit face masks, FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kids, and unapproved medications.
DHS has also geared up to face the growing threat of the Chinese Communist Party. Wolf warned that China aims to undermine “American workers, American economic dominance, and the American way of life” and “remake the world order in its own authoritarian image.” He specifically mentioned intellectual property theft, unfair business practices, attempts to compromise U.S. organizations conducting COVID research, and exploiting academia.
DHS is combatting these efforts by blocking visas for certain Chinese students and researchers, targeting illicit Chinese manufacturers that produce fraudulent medical supplies, preventing goods produced by slave labor from entering U.S. markets, working to prevent Chinese-made fentanyl from entering the U.S., and fighting to protect U.S. communications infrastructure from Chinese threats.
“China’s efforts to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic, to sabotage free and fair trade, and abuse our immigration system will be met with resolute determination of a Department committed to putting America first,” Wolf declared.