Trump's interference in Portland protests cost taxpayers $12.3 million

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The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general revealed the figure in a report released April 16.

A report released by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general on April 16 reveals that the department spent $12.3 million on "Operation Diligent Valor," Donald Trump's deployment of law enforcement personnel under DHS to Portland, Oregon, in the summer of 2020 in response to protests against police brutality.

Trump ordered the deployment over the protests of local officials after Fox News had spent weeks filling the airwaves with images that supported an exaggerated accounting of the extent of destruction in the city as protesters responded to the murder in May of George Floyd by a white policeman in Minneapolis. Fox figures allied with Trump claimed the city had been "destroyed by the mob" and was in "constant chaos."

The response to the protest was a key reference for Trump in his failed reelection campaign.

"If you want a vision of your life under a Biden presidency, think of the smoldering ruins in Minneapolis, the violent anarchy of Portland," Trump said in an Aug. 20, 2020, speech.

Although Trump and his allies claimed Joe Biden never condemned violence by protesters on the left, he in fact frequently decried violence across the political spectrum without hesitation. Meanwhile, Trump told the far-right extremist Proud Boys militia group to "stand by."

But the inspector general's report notes that while Trump spent millions sending federal forces to Portland, the Federal Protective Services estimated that the amount of damage caused to Hatfield Courthouse, which they had ostensibly been deployed to protect, was estimated at $1.6 million.

The report also finds:

DHS was unprepared to effectively execute cross-component activities to protect Federal facilities when component law enforcement officers first deployed on June 4, 2020. Specifically, not all officers completed required training; had the necessary equipment; and used consistent uniforms, devices, and operational tactics when responding to the events in Portland.

 

This occurred because DHS did not have a comprehensive strategy that addressed the potential for limited state and local law enforcement assistance, as well as cross-designation policies, processes, equipment, and training requirements.

Reporting at the time by the Washington Post depicted a chaotic situation on the ground in Portland in which "unsuspecting people were scooped up from the city’s streets by federal agents in the middle of the night, based on information that turned out to be inaccurate or insufficient to charge them with a crime."

Portland's Democratic Mayor Ed Wheeler criticized Trump for the show of force, saying, "Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? ... It's you who have created the hate and the division. It's you who have not found a way to say the names of Black people killed by police officers even as people in law enforcement have. And it's you who claimed that White supremacists are good people."

Trump hailed Operation Diligent Valor as fulfilling his campaign promises of "law and order" and alleged that Biden was sympathetic to antifa, whom Trump frequently cited as the perpetrators of the violence.

"It took 15 minutes, it was over," Trump told attendees at a rally in October 2020 after members of a federal task force shot and killed an antifa activist who was being sought in the killing of a Trump supporter in Portland.

Trump continued to emphasize purported left-wing political violence while minimizing the actions of right-wing extremists throughout his reelection campaign.

When President Joe Biden took office, he expanded grants to target and prevent right-wing terrorism.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.