When protests erupted across the country in late May after the killing of Floyd, a Black resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the hands of officers from the city’s police force, the Trump administration brought in a slew of federal police forces as well as state national guardsmen to crush the demonstrations in Washington, DC.
However, after one night in particular, when thousands of protesters converged outside the White House on May 29, sending US President Donald Trump into a reinforced bunker for protection, the US Secret Service decided it needed a more robust defense of the presidential mansion.
In a June 5 letter obtained by watchdog group American Oversight and passed to the Washington Post, the Secret Service asked US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for support in the form of a reconnaissance aircraft with infrared capabilities and a medium lift helicopter “capable of delivering [an] airborne quick reaction force” of 10 personnel.
“Due to the significant and unprecedented events occurring in the National Capital Region, the US Secret Service is requesting the support from the US Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations,” Kimberly Cheatle, assistant director for the Secret Service’s Office of Protective Operations, wrote in the letter to CBP acting Commissioner Mark Morgan. “CBP’s participation in the operational security plan is vital.”
Anonymous Trump administration officials told the Post that while CBP did agree to provide the Secret Service with a live information feed from a surveillance aircraft, the Secret Service later said it didn’t need the helicopter. However, the administration did erect several miles of strong metal fencing around not only the entire White House grounds, but also Lafayette Park, a public space across the street that is commonly used for protest gatherings.
As Sputnik reported, CBP was already present on the streets of Washington by early June, joining other federal police agencies. “These ‘protests’ have devolved into chaos & acts of domestic terrorism by groups of radicals & agitators,” Morgan tweeted on June 1 in a caption to a photo of dozens of CBP agents. “CBP is answering the call and will work to keep DC safe.”
Elite Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) SWAT teams were also deployed to Portland, Oregon, last month, but both protesters and state and local officials accused the Department of Homeland Security of making a bad problem worse with its excessively violent response to the protests.