While protests in Portland, Ore. have been “hijacked by violent extremists,” the U.S. Marshals stationed there aim to come to a resolution, U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington said Tuesday.
In an interview on “Fox News @ Night,” Washington said that his agency has been charged with the protection of the federal judicial function for 230 years and that the approximately 40 agents in Portland are “part of [the] community.”
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“So, we’re not some outside invading force, if you will,” he said. “This is where we should be, and we don’t have the option to not be here.”
According to Washington, the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse is a “symbol” of federal justice for Portland, “from which many important decisions have come.”
“So, we are here as the protectors, if you will, of Article III of our Constitution. That’s our primary duty and function. And so, that’s why we’re here,” he noted.
Washington says the U.S. Marshals hope to “work toward a reasonable resolution,” as well as “ensure that peaceful protesters are protected.”
“We think that we do that and we do that in a very professional way,” he said. “But, it’s also our job to enforce federal law. Because this peaceful protest, in many respects, has been hijacked by violent extremists who have no intent to arrive at any solution other than to continue to create chaos.
“So, I’m going to meet with members of the community over the next couple of days — members of the faith community, the business community, and others who are willing to talk about [what’s] next,” Washington told host Shannon Bream.
Washington is encouraging the public to “separate the good from the bad” actors, adding that while the U.S. Marshals Service wants “law and order” they also want “equal justice under the law.”
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He said that while “it’s hard to argue against the concept of equal rights for everybody,” Americans should also not be burning down courthouses or engaging in assaults against federal officers trying to protect federal institutions.
In the long-run, however, Washington is optimistic and believes trying times will make for a “stronger union.”