Civil Rights Protesters Confront Modern-Day Pinkertons
Contract Security Guards Working for the Department of Homeland Security Are Part of the Law Enforcement Response to Recent Protests
Thousands of contract security guards, essentially rent-a-cops, employed by the Department of Homeland Security to secure some 125 federal buildings in the Washington, D.C., area are now engaging civil rights protesters in the city as part of a federal law enforcement response allegedly under the command of Attorney General William Barr.
These contract security personnel have long been part of the Federal Protective Service (FPS), which is under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). These contract guards are deployed at the more than 9,000 federal facilities nationwide.
There are some 13,000 security guards nationwide employed by FPS via contracts with private security firms, with about a third of them — 5,000 to 6,000 — based in the Washington, D.C. area, according to the most recently available figures. Via contracts with FPS, more than 50 private security firms provide guards — referred to as protective security officers — to the agency in the Washington, D.C., area alone.
Among the responsibilities of these contract guards is to assist federal law enforcers with crowd control as needed.
“As symbols of government, federal facilities are often the place where citizens congregate to express their concerns about an issue, often in the form of mass demonstrations or protests,” DHS’ website says in describing FPS. “When this happens, FPS law enforcement officers are on-site to ensure that all citizens can express themselves in a safe and peaceful manner. When demonstrations start to become violent against others, or disruptive to government operations, FPS officers will step in to regain the peace.”
A manual for security guards produced by FPS includes an entire chapter on handling “civil disturbances,” such as the protests now occurring across the nation, including Washington, D.C., over racial injustice — sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.