On Wednesday, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden finally addressed the federal response to the horrific antifa riots and lawlessness in Portland. Rather than acknowledging the violence and destruction in that city — which have carried on for 54 nights — Biden slammed federal officers, claiming they were “brutally attacking peaceful protesters” in service of President Donald Trump’s “political interests.” His statement did not even mention the firing of mortars at police officers and at the federal courthouse or the brief “autonomous zone” that emerged in Portland earlier this month.
“We have a president who is determined to sow chaos and division. To make matters worse instead of better,” Biden began. “We all remember the appalling scenes in front of the White House, when peaceful protestors were gassed to make way for a Trump photo op. Now Homeland Security agents — without a clearly defined mandate or authority — are ranging far from federal property, stripped of badges and insignia and identifying markings, to detain people.”
“They are brutally attacking peaceful protestors, including a U.S. Navy veteran,” the Democrat insisted.
Ironically, Biden went on to acknowledge that “of course the U.S. government has the right and duty to protect federal property.” He insisted that “the Obama-Biden administration protected federal property across the country without resorting to these egregious tactics — and without trying to stoke the fires of division in this country.” (Because telling black people that Mitt Romney would “put y’all back in chains” certainly doesn’t qualify as “stoking the fires of division,” right?)
“We need a president who will bring us together instead of tear us apart, calm instead of inflame, and enforce the law faithfully rather than put his political interests first,” Biden concluded.
While federal officers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have allegedly been using “snatch vans” to detain people on the violent streets of Portland, CBP has insisted that agents identified themselves as such and wore CBP insignia on their clothes during arrests. U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams has directed an investigation into these worrisome claims.
Federal officers may have gone too far in their efforts, but it is important to remember that the streets of Portland have turned into a war zone every night for the past 54 nights.
Antifa Rioters Break Into Portland Police Union and Set It on Fire as Mayor Hamstrings Federal Troops
On Saturday evening, for example, two groups of antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters terrorized Portland, squaring off against police and federal troops. One group attacked the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct and the police union, setting it on fire. The other group targeted the federal courthouse and Justice Center, returning to set yet another bonfire at the ruins of the elk statue nearby. Before the violence began on this 51st day of unrest in Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland) decided to hamstring federal troops, aiming to prevent local law enforcement from teaming up with them.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 19, 2020
The northern group of rioters threw rocks and launched paint-filled balloons at officers. According to the police report, the antifa rioters also shot gopher gassers at police — toxic gases designed to kill gophers and ground squirrels. This onslaught injured some police officers.
Rioters again attacked the federal courthouse on Tuesday night, breaking through the barrier and shattering some of the windows.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 22, 2020
The streets looked like a war zone.
Rioters carrying shields rush back to the Portland federal courthouse after law enforcement return inside. Rioters cheer and celebrate, claiming it to be a battle victory. #PortlandRiots #antifa pic.twitter.com/UORcZiuOBW
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 22, 2020
With all due respect to Joe Biden, the Obama administration did not face 50-day riots like this. When violent riots broke out in Baltimore in 2015, at least Barack Obama said there was “no excuse” for the riots. He did not pretend the riots did not happen, like Joe Biden did in his statement on Wednesday.
When President Donald Trump condemned the violent riots in Minneapolis and urged local authorities to get the situation under control, threatening to send in federal officers if they did not, Biden condemned him for “calling for violence against Americans.” This situation is similar. Rather than even just acknowledging the violence in Portland, Biden said Trump was sending officers to “brutally” attack “peaceful protesters.”
In reality, Trump was sending in officers to end the lawless and destructive riots — riots that have killed at least 22 people across America, most of them black. If Joe Biden cannot see the difference between sending law enforcement to quell a riot and unjustly attacking peaceful protesters, how can he be trusted to serve as America’s commander in chief?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.