United States Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus issued the following statement today following the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) unnecessary and provocative deployment of Federal agents to the Seattle area:
“Yesterday, I led a letter with Senator Patty Murray, signed on to by our state’s entire Congressional Democratic delegation, demanding that DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf immediately withdraw Federal agents following their wholly unnecessary deployment to the Seattle area. This followed on actions from the House Judiciary Committee, on which I sit, to demand an investigation by the Inspector General into a similar and horrific deployment in Portland that has led to violence and violations of civil liberties. This coming Tuesday, Attorney General Bill Barr will appear before the House Judiciary Committee and I intend to question and hold him accountable for his role in the militarized and unconstitutional responses to the uprisings against police brutality.
“Let me be clear: these federal agents in Portland, Seattle and other cities across the country are being deployed without the request and consent of state and local officials. Their deputization is nothing short of a disgraceful attempt to obscure the powerful demands of protesters who have been standing up and speaking out against police brutality, racism and anti-Blackness, and demanding change. Any attempts to attack, hurt, tear gas, pepper spray, shoot, pick up, arrest, suppress the free speech of or trample on the Constitutional rights of peaceful protesters will not only be patently unacceptable but immediately be investigated. DHS’ unjustified use of force has already been challenged in multiple lawsuits and must not be replicated—in our community or anywhere across this country.
“Our Seattle community has a proud history of powerfully protesting injustice. Since the murder of George Floyd, hundreds of thousands have boldly taken to the streets day after day and night after night in a united march for racial justice and an end to police brutality, racism, white supremacy and anti-Blackness. These largely peaceful protests are essential to the notion of democracy, a Constitutionally protected right to assemble and challenge injustice. As the protests continue tonight, any militarized responses from law enforcement will only escalate violence. All of us must be vigilant in urging local law enforcement to perpetually de-escalate, and to reject any take over of our city’s response by Federal agents whose only purpose appears to be to incite violence and divert attention from the urgency of protesters’ demands to end police brutality and white supremacy.
“We saw this very dynamic at play when the uprisings first began. That is why I immediately called for an end to curfews, National Guard troops, tear gassing and rubber bullets. Tonight will be no different: militaristic responses are not the way forward. My message was clear then and it is clear now: law enforcement must de-escalate and be extra-vigilant about protecting the constitutional rights of protesters as they continue their peaceful march toward justice. In this moment, the Administration should be leading the efforts to reform policing and eradicate anti-blackness, not cracking down on protesters who are far ahead of them in leading change.
“To the protesters, I stand in solidarity with you. Stay vigilant to what is happening around you, record instances of injustice with detail, and continue responding to violence with non-violence. You are on the right side of history.”