For weeks now, federal officers have been working in tandem with Portland police to brutally crack down on ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, leading to national outcry.
According to The Oregonian, on the president’s bid to “restore order in the city,” the federal government and local law enforcement are forcefully – and unlawfully – seizing protesters from the streets and detaining them. In a coordinated operation, officers have been employing violent and constitutionally dubious tactics against protesters. Resulting in the US state of Oregon filing a lawsuit against the federal government.
Here’s everything you need to know about what’s going on in Portland.
What is happening?
There have been nightly protests against police brutality in Portland since the killing of George Floyd. The federal government has said it is trying to restore order in the city by sending federal officers to Portland.
In a coordinated effort, federal law enforcement and local police have unleashed a brutal campaign against protesters, which includes using chemical weapons and impact rounds, physically engaging peaceful protesters, loading arrested Portlanders into unmarked minivans.
The media has mostly been covering the force’s efforts as a response to the Portland Police Association building being set on fire, classifying peaceful protesters as violent attackers prone to vandalism and attacks on law enforcement. This is simply not true.
Why is this so concerning?
The strife in Portland, reflects the growing fault lines in law enforcement as President Trump pushes a brutal federal role in how cities manage a wave of national unrest after George Floyd was killed by the Minneapolis police. The federal government’s militarized response is not only making things worse on the ground, but also toes the line of constitutionality.
Portland is not a single case, it’s part of the bigger picture. Similarly, federal agents have been dispatched to Seattle and Washington, D.C. The response by Homeland Security painfully shows just how federal officers are exceeding their arrest authority and violating the rights of protesters across the US, not just in Portland.
How are city officials reacting?
Amid mounting national outrage and calls for federal law enforcement agencies to stop policing Portland protests, local leaders are urging the feds to leave and taking legal action.
“This is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland said, according to the New York Times.
On Friday night, Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, announced her office had opened a criminal investigation into how one protester was injured near a federal courthouse. She also filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court accusing the federal agents of engaging in unlawful tactics and seeking a restraining order to stop agents from the Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service, US Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service from making any more arrests in the city.
“These tactics must stop,” Ms Rosenblum said in a statement. “They not only make it impossible for people to assert their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully, they also create a more volatile situation on our streets.”
“The federal administration has chosen Portland to use their scare tactics to stop our residents from protesting police brutality and from supporting the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. “Every American should be repulsed when they see this happening. If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere.”