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Watchdog to investigate federal police in Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C.

Protesters gather at the historic St. John's Episcopal Church on June 6, less than a week after U.S. and military police drove protesters out of Lafayette Square. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI
Protesters gather at the historic St. John's Episcopal Church on June 6, less than a week after U.S. and military police drove protesters out of Lafayette Square. File Photo by Pat Benic/UPI | License Photo

July 23 (UPI) -- The Justice Department inspector general announced Thursday he's opening an investigation into the use of force by federal law enforcement agents on protesters in Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz said a referral from the U.S. Attorney's office in Oregon prompted the probe. He said his office will coordinate with the Department of Interior inspector general to investigate use of force used near Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C.

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"The review will include examining the training and instruction that was provided to the DOJ law enforcement personnel; compliance with applicable identification requirements, rules of engagement, and legal authorities; and adherence to DOJ policies regarding the use of less-lethal munitions, chemical agents, and other uses of force," a statement from the Justice Department watchdog said.

The announcement comes one day after President Donald Trump ordered officers from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to Chicago and Albuquerque to quell violence there.

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Federal law enforcement officials arrived in Portland earlier this month to respond to Black Lives Matter protests in the city, some of which involved violence and vandalism. Witnesses accused the officers of using unmarked vehicles to grab protesters off the streets and detain them with little explanation of why they are being arrested in an apparent escalation of federal force.

Trump said he sent the officers after receiving intelligence that the building might be attacked.

On Wednesday, federal officers tear-gassed a crowd of demonstrators that included Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler near a federal courthouse.

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The deployment in Portland prompted the American Civil Liberties Union, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and other groups and lawmakers to file lawsuits.

Meanwhile, the actions of federal law enforcement have also come under scrutiny in Washington, D.C., after officials cleared protesters at Lafayette Park on June 1 to allow Trump to walk through the area to visit St. John's Episcopal Church for a photo opportunity.

Officers in riot gear sprayed chemical gas and shoved protesters out of the area in front of the church, witnesses testified to Congress last month.

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Protesters march for social justice

The Surrogate's Court building exterior remains vandalized while Occupy City Hall protests continue outside City Hall in New York City on June 30. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

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