Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Acting Commissioner Mark Morgan spoke with the Daily Caller in an exclusive interview while on the ground amid months of riots and protests in Portland, Oregon.
Most recently, the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland was the home of multiple nightly battles between federal officers and protesters. The Trump administration appeared to reach an agreement with Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on a plan to stop the violence, but confusion ensued regarding whether and when federal troops would be withdrawing.
During the interview, Morgan addressed Brown’s claims that officers would begin withdrawing from the city beginning June 30. (RELATED: Inside The Riots: These Reporters Were On The Ground In Portland For Five Nights)
“There is confusion,” Morgan said. “I think that’s being driven to score political points. I want to be clear to everyone that’s listening to this right now is that the federal resources that are here [in Portland]: We’re not leaving. We’re still here in Portland.”
“We’ve re-adjusted some of our resources from the courthouse itself to be stand-by resources, but they’re still in Portland. I want to repeat that: They’re still in Portland … And we’re going to stay here until we have confidence that the threat against the federal courthouse and our personnel has gone away. We’re not leaving until we feel comfortable, and we’re going to rely on our resources here in Portland to help us make that decision.”
Morgan told the Caller that despite what he described as consistent attempts “to harm these agents,” he thinks morale among law enforcement remains high. He also responded to Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler’s claim that violence perpetuated by antifa in Portland is “a myth.”
“These are absolutely antifa-like tactics that are being utilized every single night,” Morgan said. “And again, I think the tragic part is that the message that is there, that is legitimate by the peaceful protesters – it’s being lost. It’s being hijacked by these criminals every single night.”
“It’s an outright lie. They’re putting politics before public safety,” he continued, adding that there has been “over 250 separate injuries to federal agents and officers.”
Morgan noted that taxpayers will have to pay to clean up the federal courthouse in Portland, which has suffered from broken windows, graffiti and more. He also explained how violence decreased in Portland after local law enforcement agencies began to become involved.
“So what we’ve seen is a dramatic shift from the moment that the Oregon state police and local law enforcement agencies were allowed to come in and work with the federal law enforcement that’s here. From the moment, the moment that their handcuffs were taken off and they are allowed to do what they are good at and they know how to do – the moment they were allowed to work with the federal resources on the ground, you’ve seen a significant decrease in violence.”
The commissioner expressed confidence that the decreased level of violence would continue, but admitted that he is unable to say it has completely gone away.
“Whenever you have a situation, whenever there’s a threat, the goal is supposed to be for local, state and federal agencies to work together … Wherever that’s done effectively, you see an absolutely mitigation with respects to the violence,” Morgan said.