WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), issued the following statement regarding the extraordinary use of federal force against protestors in Portland, Oregon. The at times violent crackdown by the Trump Administration has drawn widespread criticism from local, state and federal leaders in Oregon.
“It is an unwavering commitment to the rule of law that must separate the United States from authoritarian regimes around the world. We have always led by our example and called on other nations to follow. And we’ve admonished leaders who allow secret police forces to be dispatched to apprehend those that speak out against their government. In fact, our foreign aid budget includes explicit conditions designed to discourage repressive governments around the world from jailing their citizens without cause, or denying their citizens the freedom of speech or the right to peacefully protest. It is this bedrock belief that no one is above the law that allows citizens to trust in their government—and violations of this principle only serve to erode that trust.
“Unfortunately, the tactics we have seen federal forces use in Portland, Oregon over the weekend are more akin to those favored by autocrats seeking to quash dissent than they are appropriate to a free and open society. And, despite what Donald Trump says, the presence of federal forces not trained in crowd-control seems only to have escalated tensions.
“What is unfolding in Portland cannot be separated from the President's failure to nominate qualified individuals to key leadership positions at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and send them to the Senate for an up-or-down vote. Rather than empowering DHS, the President's seemingly hostile attitude toward seeking Congressional advice and consent serves to undermine the important work that many career professionals at the Department carry out every day.
“Instead of responding to legitimate public outcry, this President is doubling down. Last month, it was Washington, DC. We saw this same behavior as Donald Trump tear-gassed and forcibly removed protestors in Lafayette Square so that he could have a photo-op in front of St. John’s Church. This week, it’s Portland as Donald Trump tries to stoke fears regarding Democratic-led cities and states. Tomorrow, it could be Wilmington. But we cannot wait until these forces arrive in our own communities to speak up. In this country and on behalf of all our fellow citizens, we must remain committed to the rule of law, and continue to demand the transparency and accountability that can help keep our communities safe.”