Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf has rejected calls for federal authorities responding to protests in Portland, Oregon to "go home," saying his department will not "abdicate" its mission to help bring order to the city.
On Thursday, Wolf met with federal law enforcement officials in Portland, where officers from several DHS agencies, including the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies, have been tasked with responding to ongoing protests in the wake of George Floyd's death.
The DHS chief sought to rally support for the department's mission in the city, despite resounding calls from protesters and city and state officials for federal agents to leave Portland.
Speaking with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday, Wolf said he had called Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to offer "DHS support to help them locally address the situation that's going on in Portland."
"Their only response was, 'Please pack up and go home,'" the DHS chief said.
Indeed, in a tweet on Wednesday, Wheeler made clear that he did not want federal officers in his city, noting that he told Wolf that his "biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use."
"We do not need or want their help," Wheeler said.
"The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether," he said in a second tweet.
Speaking with Hannity, however, Wolf said: "That's just not gonna happen on my watch."
Instead, the DHS chief said he would be making sure his department is "supporting our law enforcement officers" in Portland, whether local and state officials want them there or not.
"We're not going to abdicate our mission, our responsibilities," he said.
In a separate statement published online by the DHS, Wolf claimed that "the city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city."
"Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it," he said.
"A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice-to attack it is to attack America," said Wolf, who toured the destruction at the federal courthouse on Thursday.
But, "instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities," the DHS chief accused local and state leaders of "focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community."
"This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day," he said.
Nearly 1,500 words in Wolf's statement were dedicated to a list outlining incidents of vandalism and violence that have unfolded in Portland amid protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
The list describes instances of "violent anarchists" vandalizing property, attacking law enforcement, arming themselves with "sledgehammers, tasers and/or stun guns" and releasing the personal information of federal officers online, or doxing them.
"This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law," Wolf said.
"DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them," he said, before reiterating "the Department's offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists."