Federal agents fired tear gas canisters and flashbangs early on Wednesday (July 29) to disperse hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters who had converged outside the federal courthouse in downtown Portland for the 63rd consecutive day to demonstrate against racial inequality and police violence.
Federal agents dispatched to Portland have drawn national attention for whisking away demonstrators in unmarked cars, beating a U.S. Navy veteran and tear-gassing activist mothers and the city’s mayor.
U.S. President Donald Trump has sought to project a law-and-order stance as he seeks re-election on November 3, targeting cities controlled by Democrats who he says are soft on criminals. Critics say the administration is seeking to divert attention from its widely criticized response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday (July 28) parried attacks in the Democratic-led House of Representatives, denying accusations he is doing President Donald Trump’s bidding by intervening in high-profile cases and sending federal agents into U.S. cities.
He testified to the House Judiciary Committee for the first time since taking office in February 2019 as the Justice Department faces criticism for sending federal officers to forcibly disperse anti-racism protesters in Portland, Oregon, and Washington, D.C.
(Production: Njuwa Maina)