President Donald Trump has warned that federal officers deployed in Portland may have to resort to “something very powerful” if the violence in that city is not quelled.
“If it doesn’t clean up we’re going to have to do something very powerful…We have no choice,” Trump said, adding that “left-wing extremists have spread mayhem throughout the streets of different cities.”
The president made the comments during a meeting with leaders of the National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO) at the White House on Friday. NAPO had endorsed Trump’s reelection campaign earlier this month.
Calling the Portland protesters “absolute anarchists, in many cases professionals,” Trump warned that federal officers could respond with “very strong offensive force” if necessary, but simultaneously complained that they have not been “allowed to be offensive, unfortunately,” up to this point.
Trump’s remarks come a day after he called the Portland protesters “professional agitators,” and a “beehive of terrorists,” and threatened to deploy the National Guard unless Mayor Ted Wheeler and Governor Brown did not get a hold of the situation.
On Thursday, Brown announced that federal forces were preparing to leave the city. However, on Friday morning, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf contradicted her statement, and said that federal police would stay put until local authorities and local law enforcement proved themselves “effective” against protesters “night after night.”
Portland and other major cities across the United States have faced over two months of anti-racism and anti-police violence protests following the death of an unarmed African American man in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota in late May. While most of the protests have remained generally peaceful, some have degenerated into rioting, looting, arson, and attacks on small business owners or passerby. Protesters have also engaged in heavy clashes with police in some areas, with at least 30 people killed in the violence.