Noah Berger / APFederal officers disperse Black Lives Matter protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on July 24, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. (Noah Berger / AP)
The United Nations human rights office is warning America to play nice amid violent riots that are raging in Portland, Oregon.
The scolding was delivered by Elizabeth Throssell, the U.N.’s human rights spokeswoman, during a news briefing Friday in Geneva, Switzerland.
Throssell’s chiding came on the same day that White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed the cost of federal agents’ efforts to quell rioting that has lasted in Portland for more than 50 days.
McEnany said agents have had to endure “rioters barricading officers inside the Hatfield federal courthouse, trapping officers inside.”
“A, quote, ‘commercial-grade mortar firework’ was launched by rioters,” she added.
“A federal agent’s hand was impaled by planted nails. Another federal agent was shot with a pellet gun, leaving a wound deep to the bone. And tragically, three federal officers were likely left permanently blinded by the rioters using lasers pointed directly at their eyes.”
Throssell, however, focused on the protesters, who in Portland have staged nightly efforts to storm a federal courthouse while setting fires around it.
“It is very important that people are able to protest peacefully, that people aren’t subject to unnecessary, disproportionate or discriminatory use of force,” she said, according to Reuters.
Throssell said police or federal agents should ensure they are identifiable so that they can be called to account later for actions taken amid violent demonstrations.
Does the UN have any place to tell U.S. law enforcement how to quell a riot?
“Also, it is important that any victims of unnecessary or excessive use of force do have the right to remedy, and there should be, as we often say, prompt, independent, impartial and transparent investigations into any allegations of human rights violations, and that should ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” she said during the briefing.
“There have been reports that peaceful protesters have been detained by unidentified police officers,” Throssell added, as Newsweek reported.
She claimed that such actions “may place those detained outside the protection of the law and may give rise to arbitrary detention and other human rights violations.”
The comments came amid claims from two volunteer medics that they were roughed up by federal agents who have come to Portland to help quell the rioting.
“Volunteer medics should be celebrated, not attacked or arrested,” Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon, said in a statement.
“Our clients are volunteering day and night to provide aid to the injured and to create a safer environment for protesters and bystanders. These attacks are unconscionable as well as unconstitutional. This lawlessness must end.”
However, McEnany said the violence that rages nightly in Portland is proof that the rioters are not simply out to exercise their First Amendment rights.
“These are not the actions of so-called peaceful protesters, and the Trump administration will not stand by and allow anarchy in our streets,” she said.
“Law and order will prevail.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the DHS supports protests, but opposes violence.
“My message is simple: If you’re looking to peacefully protest in Portland, the department respects your right to do so. Please do so away from the violent activity that’s taking place near the courthouse on a nightly basis, for your own safety,” he said earlier this week, according to the U.K. Independent.
“If you are a violent rioter looking to inflict damage on federal property or law enforcement officers, you need to find another line of work. We will not retreat. We will continue to take the appropriate action to protect our facilities and our law enforcement officers.”
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