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Federal officers walk through tear gas while dispersing a crowd of about a thousand people during a protest on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Stirring Fears of Pre-Crime Policing, DHS Head Chad Wolf Confirms Federal Agents in Portland Making 'Proactive' Arrests

"Welcome to 2020: Minority Report Edition."

Eoin Higgins

Critics unloaded on acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf after the agency head revealed in an interview on Fox News Tuesday evening that federal law enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon are "proactively" arresting demonstrators in the city.

"Chad Wolf needs to be 'proactively' relieved of duty," tweeted journalist Amr Khalifa in response to the remarks.

Wolf told Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum that DHS agents were detaining protesters because of insufficient assistance from local law enforcement and city officials.

"Because we don't have that local support, that local law enforcement support, we are having to go out and proactively arrest individuals," said Wolf.

"Constitution, schmonstitution," replied journalist Dan Gilmor.

The secretary added that federal officers did not need local permission to conduct operations in the city, calling the assertion "ridiculous."

"You need to hold individuals accountable," said Wolf. "When we don't do that, I think we get what we see in Portland today."

Civil liberties advocates noted the similarity between Wolf's "proactive" language and the plot of the 2002 film Minority Report, in which Tom Cruise plays a futuristic cop tasked with "pre-crime" policing.

"In other words, they're arresting people who haven't actually done anything wrong," tweeted journalist Ashton Pittman. "Welcome to 2020: Minority Report Edition."

President Donald Trump has suggested in recent days that he will deploy DHS officers to other cities around the country and officials told Politico that the efforts could continue for months. 

According to Politico:

Senior DHS officials said they expect the unrest to escalate at least through the November election, and noted that the protection of federal buildings falls squarely within their remit. DHS can temporarily authorize officers and agents from its other components—including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP)—to protect federal buildings.

Since DHS officers began operating in Portland, detaining protesters and shooting tear gas and other projectiles at crowds, demonstrations in the city have exploded in size. As Common Dreams reported, protesters have been joined this week by a "wall of moms" who stand between demonstrators and federal officials. 

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