The inspector general for the Department of Justice announced Thursday he was investigating use of force allegations against federal law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon as well as their response to protesters in Washington D.C..
Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he’d opened the probe into the heavily criticized federal response to protests near government buildings in Portland in response to Congressional requests and a referral from the U.S. Attorney in Oregon.
Oregon’s attorney general filed suit against the Department of Homeland Security over the federal response last week, charging that officers sent to Portland to suppress the Black Lives Matter protests violated the Constitution by unlawfully detaining and arresting demonstrators without probable cause.
Federal officers “have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers’ unmarked vehicles, removing them from public without either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest, since at least Tuesday, July 14,” A.G. Ellen Rosenblum’s lawsuit said.
“The identity of the officers is not known, nor is their agency affiliation, according to videos and reports that the officers in question wear military fatigues with patches simply reading ‘POLICE,’ with no other identifying information,” the lawsuit continues.
Acting Homeland Security head Chad Wolf has maintained that the officers have patches on their uniforms saying which agency they’re with, and denied that they’ve been arresting people without probable cause. He said they’ve only been targeting “violent rioters,” despite some video evidence to the contrary.
Horowitz said he’s coordinating his investigation with the inspector general for Homeland Security, which is a part of DOJ.
Horowitz said he’s also investigating the federal response against protesters in Washington, D.C., including when law enforcement used force to clear Lafayette Park minutes before a photo-op there by President Donald Trump.
Horowitz said the reviews “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.”