Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

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. 


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Scientists to BlackRock Vice Chairman: New Fossil Fuel Development 'Incompatible' With 1.5°C

"The only responsible course of action is to do everything in our power to stop fossil fuel expansion and further emissions."

Jessica Corbett ·


Goldman Prize Awarded to Activists Who Showed Nature's 'Amazing Capability to Regenerate'

"While the many challenges before us can feel daunting, and at times make us lose faith, these seven leaders give us a reason for hope and remind us what can be accomplished in the face of adversity."

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders Call for Federal Election Monitors in Georgia to Protect Black Voters

"It is imperative that our election this November is monitored to preserve ballot integrity and ensure ballot security."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Inaction Is Bought': Here Are the Receipts on NRA's Purchase of GOP

"The issue is money in politics," said Nina Turner after the nation's latest mass killing of students and teachers. Right-wing lawmakers are "allowing children to die because of the gun lobby."

Kenny Stancil ·


'This Is on You!' Beto Interrupts Abbott Press Conference on Texas Massacre

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke accused Texas' GOP leaders of "doing nothing and offering us nothing" in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo