As protests descended into chaos Friday night in Oakland, California, a security officer guarding a federal courthouse was shot and killed in an incident that authorities have now labeled an “act of domestic terrorism,” according to a report from the Associated Press.
According to the AP, two contract security officers working for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) were keeping watch over the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building in Oakland on Friday night amid increasingly violent protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody Monday in Minneapolis. Just before 10 p.m., the AP said, a van pulled up to the federal courthouse and its occupants opened fire.
Both of the security guards were hit by the gunfire. One remains in critical condition.
The doors of the federal building were subsequently smashed and anti-police graffiti painted along the courthouse’s facade, according to the AP.
“An act of domestic terrorism”
The incident has since been condemned by Trump administration officials, including acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, who likened the officer’s killing to “an act of domestic terrorism.”
“When someone targets a police officer or a police station with an intention to do harm and intimidate — that is an act of domestic terrorism,” Cuccinelli told reporters Saturday, according to the AP.
Cuccinelli also said threats “to attack police stations and federal buildings” are unacceptable. “That violence not only won’t be tolerated, we are also committed to ensuring that it won’t succeed anywhere,” he told reporters, according to the AP.
Family members identified the deceased federal officer as 53-year-old Patrick Underwood, who worked for a security company that held a contract with DHS to provide protective services on the federal level, according to local ABC affiliate KGO. Thus far, no suspects have been named in his murder.
“Seeing a pattern”
As the AP noted, government officials including California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) have attempted to draw a line between those peacefully protesting Floyd’s killing and others who have resorted to looting and vandalism. Even President Donald Trump suggested in a tweet Saturday that the violence is coming from “‘organized groups’ that have nothing to do with George Floyd.”
Thankfully, it seems Trump’s administration is doubling down.
“We’re interested in all groups, all violent groups, all extremist groups that are going to take advantage of individuals exercising their First Amendment right to do that peaceful protest and turning it into something else and that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing a pattern of that. And we’re very concerned about that,” DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said at Saturday’s presser, KGO reported.
Attorney General Bill Barr said earlier Saturday that the Justice Department would be enforcing a 1960s anti-riot law to crack down on violent protesters.
“We must have law and order on our streets and in our communities,” Barr said, according to the New York Post. “It is a federal crime to cross state lines or to use interstate facilities to incite or participate in violent rioting.”