Wray says protests more peaceful in cities, states that saw federal help

The feds don’t want to engage with protesters in battle, he explained

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FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday said that states and cities that had federal help in dealing with widespread protests this year did a better job of keeping the peace than jurisdictions that did not.

Wray made the comments during his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

He said that violent extremists have been able to co-opt relatively peaceful protests in cities where local officials rejected federal intervention.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. 

FBI Director Christopher Wray, testifies during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on "Threats to the Homeland" Thursday, Sept. 24, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington.  (AP)

“Where all the partners have worked together quickly, all on the same page … it’s usually been nipped in the bud,” Wray told the committed.

He maintained that federal authorities don’t want to engage in the battles, but “deter them and allow peaceful protests to go on.”

As much of the nation as been rocked by protests against police brutality and racial injustice, Wray distinguished what he saw as three distinct groups: peaceful protests, criminal opportunists, and anti-government extremists.

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He described Antifa as a real movement with an overarching anti-fascist outlook, but with other ideologies as well.

“It’s almost like a salad bar of ideologies. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. What they’re really about is the violence,” he said.

After weeks of protests sparked by the police custody death of George Floyd in late May, Portland became the epicenter of violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement.

The city, which has seen more than 100 straight nights of protests in varying degrees, has rebuffed federal assistance.

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Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has asked Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to send in the National Guard but she has refused on the grounds that state and local authorities ought to be able to handle the protests.