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Federal authorities have swarmed the streets of Portland responding to weeks-long demonstrations against racism and police brutality with violence, and those federal authorities of course have President Donald Trump’s full support. “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told CNN Sunday that federal troops descending upon Portland streets “is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.” “And it’s not helping the situation at all,” the mayor said. “They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”

Portland officials filed a lawsuit Friday accusing federal authorities of failing to identify themselves then unlawfully arresting protesters in downtown Portland, according to The Washington Post. In the lawsuit, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum accused federal law enforcement officers dubbed John Does 1-10 of having used “unmarked vehicles” to “detain protesters” without “either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest” since at least Tuesday.

“The identity of the officers is not known, nor is their agency affiliation, according to videos and reports that the officers in question wear military fatigues with patches simply reading ‘POLICE,’ with no other identifying information,” Rosenblum stated in the lawsuit. Agencies named in the suit include the United States Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Border Protection, United States Marshals Service, and Federal Protective Service.

Stated in the lawsuit:

In one widely reported incident, in the early hours of Wednesday, July 15, MarkPettibone alleges that he was confronted by armed men dressed in camouflage who took him off the street, pushed him into a van, and drove him through downtown until unloading him into abuilding, which is believed to have been the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse. Pettibone alleges that he was put into a cell and read his Miranda rights, but was not told why he was arrested, nor was he provided with a lawyer. He alleges that he was released without any paperwork, citation, or record of his arrest.

Protests have continued in Portland for about seven weeks since the death of George Floyd May 25, CNN reported. Floyd’s death sparked demonstrations throughout the nation after Minneapolis police officers stood by and watched a fellow cop kneel on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes in a detainment that ended in his death in police custody.

In Portland Friday, about 200 people blocked traffic outside of the Multnomah County Justice Center in an encounter that ended with federal officers protecting the building using tear gas to force the crowd away, CNN reported. “Portland Police have remained inside or clear of the area around the Justice Center unless people commit criminal acts and plan to continue to deploy in that manner to allow lawful assembly and peaceful protest,” police said in a news release Saturday.

They said “Portland Police remained clear of this area for hours” even as demonstrators used metal fencing from a local park to barricade doors of the justice center and federal courthouse between over the weekend. “County and federal law enforcement officers occasionally exited their respective buildings under their own supervision and direction to clear doorways to their buildings,” Portland police said. “When they did, they were subject to projectiles such as rocks, bottles, pieces of metal and other thrown objects. People in the crowd fired commercial-grade fireworks at them.”

Portland police commanded the crowd to disperse just before 1:30 a.m. Saturday, and more violence erupted. “As Portland Police performed their work, other law enforcement officers including some from federal agencies took action as well, under their own supervision and direction,” police said. It took about 90 minutes for the crowd to break into smaller groups, but Portland police didn’t use tear gas, the agency said. “Beginning tonight command from the Federal Protective Service will not work in the Portland Police incident command center,” the police department said Saturday.

More violence ensued late Saturday and early Sunday. Authorities reported in another news release that people broke into the Portland Police Association office and started a fire inside around 10:45 p.m. Saturday. Police tweeted overnight: “People gathering around North Precinct are interfering with the operations of a police facility. Vacate the precinct’s parking lot and move back to NE MLK Blvd. Failure to follow this direction may subject you to arrest, citation, or use of force including crowd control munitions.”

Federal officials seem to attribute the continued violence in Portland to “anarchists” simply interested in “lawless destruction and violence,” but local officials, including Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, have repeatedly pointed to federal involvement and asked the federal government to remove its officers from Portland. Brown called the federal government’s response “political theater for the Trump administration” in an interview Friday with MSNBC. “This is a total and complete distraction from the Trump administration’s failure to lead a national COVID-19 response,” she said.

Former Democratic presidential candidate, Julian Castro, tweeted Sunday: “Trump has manufactured chaos in Portland with an unaccountable mob of federal officers. This must be stopped. By Congress or by a lawsuit if Trump won’t.”

Ivón Padilla-Rodríguez, a U.S. history Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, said in a tweet Sunday that “events in Portland are the result of long-practiced police & immigration collaborations.”

She wrote in a Washington Post article that in the recent protests local police tapped into the Department of Homeland Security’s surveillance tools intended to arrest suspected illegal immigrants. ”These collaborations have contributed to the simultaneous expansion of the carceral state and deportation regime,” Padilla-Rodríguez wrote. “And now, these expanded surveillance and policing capabilities are not only targeting and constraining the lives of immigrants, but U.S. citizens increasingly caught in the immigration dragnet—such as those who were forcibly detained into unmarked vehicles in Portland.”

Former FBI double agent Naveed Jamali told MSNBC Americans should be troubled by what’s happening in Portland. He called federal agents detaining people without probable cause a “perversion” of public “trust.” “You can’t arrest someone who is wearing black because at some point in the near distant future they may or may not even damage federal property,” Jamali said.

“That’s not how this country is founded. That’s not the concept of rule of law.”

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.



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