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For 63 consecutive nights, deputies from the U.S. Marshals Service in Portland, Oregon, have stood their ground, carrying out their mission to protect and defend the federal courthouse from violent agitators.
In an exclusive interview with NBC News Correspondent Erin McLaughlin, people running the U.S. Marshals Service reflected on the Portland protests — meant to shine a light on racial inequality and police use of force in the wake of George Floyd’s death — that take on a different tone after the sun goes down by groups intent on causing destruction and mayhem with seemingly little regard for justice.
The article goes on to state the following:
“I think that we’re at a watershed moment in history in America,” said Russel E. Burger, the U.S. Marshal for Oregon. “What we’re facing each night has been very difficult for our personnel to manage. We want to protect the first amendment right of people to express their views. But at the same time, we have to protect the federal judicial process, this facility and the people inside it.”
The Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland has become “ground zero for a nightly battle between protestors and law enforcement,” the report notes. The Marshals Service has been tasked with securing the building, its interior and the judges and court personnel who work there.
After federal agents were sent to protect the courthouse on a full-time basis over the July 4 weekend, the unrest accelerated.
“In order to address the problem that they’re faced with while being under attack, they have to defend themselves and they can’t do hand-to-hand combat,” Burger said. “They have to use the chemical munitions, and they don’t use those unless they have to.”
You may watch a portion of the interview below.
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