Wyden OKs Biden nominee as feds review Portland protests
A political gambit by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden has forced the national government to answer for the actions of federal law enforcement officers policing Portland protests last year.
Since April, the Oregon Democrat has held up the nomination of Chris Magnus, the Biden Administration's choice for commissioner in charge of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
But on Wednesday, Sept. 29, Sen. Wyden announced that Magnus' nomination will advance through the Finance Committee following a call between himself and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
"Today marks the beginning of a long-needed process to examine Trump's unilateral deployment of federal law enforcement in U.S. cities that left Oregonians with serious injuries, as well as federal troops' indiscriminate use of tear gas against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters," said Wyden. "Secretary Mayorkas has told me that what went on in Portland is unacceptable."
Mayorkas confirmed that Homeland Security has not deployed any law enforcement personnel here since January 2021, according to Wyden's account.
On multiple occasions, Oregon's senior senator deluged Homeland Security officials with questions — demanding to know the details of the federal response to last year's summer of upheaval.
Earlier this year, the DHS inspector general admitted that many of the camo-clad figures deployed by former President Trump were not properly trained in crowd control techniques.
In a letter to Wyden on Sept. 29, Mayorkas said his department is "reevaluating" its use of force and training policies. Mayorkas also released a trove of product data sheets for the impact projectiles, smoke grenades, stinger balls, sponge rounds and continuous discharge chemical grenades that were used to quash the nightly demonstrations outside the downtown Portland federal courthouse.
"Secretary Mayorkas told me he agrees that the human toll of tear gas is serious and that the use of tear gas in or near schools is unacceptable," the senator said.
DHS is set to release a public version of a report by its Office of Intelligence and Analysis regarding actions taken in Portland by the end of the week.
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