We are seeing something that has never happened in our lifetimes — unidentified “Federal” “law enforcement officials” stalking the streets of a major American cities, kidnapping innocent civilians, shoving them into unmarked vehicles, and making them disappear for hours or days without record or anything approaching due process.
This is the next step in the Trump administration’s plans to turn America into a real police state.
From what we know, this is the result of a scheme concocted by the White House, with Acting Homeland Security Director Chad Wolf taking point.
Check out the video. Also check out the multiple videos posted by local journalist Garrison Davis.
— Garrison Davis (Teargas Proof) (@hungrybowtie) July 17, 2020
The Washington Post interviewed a peaceful protester, Mark Pettibone, who was kidnapped, thrust into an unmarked vehicle, and driven to an undisclosed location. After he was released, he told the Post that he didn’t know who had kidnapped him. No one would identify themselves. He was put in an interrogation room, (finally) read his Miranda rights, and questioned by unidentified officials. Pettibone refused to talk and requested a lawyer. He was later released, still with no idea why he was kidnapped and by whom.
Pettibone did two smart things: he “lawyered up,” and he took his story public. That got some attention.
Within hours, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP, soon to be renamed Schutzstaffel or SS) admitted that their “officers” had kidnapped Pettigrew and taken him to the local federal courthouse, where he was questioned. CBP claims they “had information indicating the person in the video was suspected of assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property.”
No. No, they didn’t. If they did, Pettibone would have been arrested and charged.
CBP added to their lies when they claimed during their snatch-and-grab of Pettibone, “a large and violent mob moved towards their location. For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioning.”
The only “mob” in the area was a group of unidentified, camoflague-wearing, heavily armed assholes snatching peaceful protesters off the sidewalk for the “crime” of looking suspicious. As Pettibone’s friend Connor O’Shea, who was there when Pettibone was kidnapped, told an NPR reporter:
I see guys in camo. Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, “Oh shit. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.”
O’Shea hid when the goons jumped out of their vehicle, and shot video of Pettibone’s kidnapping.
More CBP lies: “The CBP agents identified themselves and were wearing CBP insignia during the encounter. The names of the agents were not displayed due to recent doxing incidents against law enforcement personnel who serve and protect our country.”
Rrrright. The “law enforcement officials” refused to identify themselves because they were afraid their names would be made public. Guess what, brownshirts: the law clearly states that law enforcement officials, from lowly animal control officials to highly paid FBI officials, must ALWAYS publicly identify themselves when discharging their duties. According to video evidence, including the videos linked to this article, the only “identification” they displayed was a patch reading “POLICE.”
I can buy a “police identification patch” on Amazon for less than I’d spend on lunch through GrubHub.
Pettibone, who was merely walking home after participating in the evening’s protests, ran for his life when he saw the mob approach him. The protests in Portland have been plagued with far-right militia members who don’t hesitate to put a beatdown on a protester if the numbers are in their favor. He saw he wasn’t going to escape, so he sank to his knees and put his hands up. He told a reporter:
I was terrified. It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.
The kidnappers — since they never properly identified themselves, they can’t be called law enforcement officials — pinned him, searached him, shoved his cap over his eyes, and took him to a holding cell in the courthouse. Shortly after he lawyered up, they released him. They never identified themselves and they never told him why he had been detained. There is no record of any arrest or even his detention. CBP later admitted they rousted him, but they also claim there is no record of him being held by them.
Even the Einstazgruppen — the SS death squads — generally kept good records.
Pettibone told NPR:
I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time. And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.
Lawyers and civil rights advocates are now involved. Law professor Orin Kerr of the University of Berkeley says:
Arrests require probable cause that a federal crime had been committed, that is, specific information indicating that the person likely committed a federal offense, or a fair probability that the person committed a federal offense. If the agents are grabbing people because they may have been involved in protests, that’s not probable cause.
Juan Chavez of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center said,
It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay. …You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests. It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.
The Post reports that the CBP “officials” are joined by US Marshals and Department of Homeland Security personnel to sweep the streets and unlawfully detain anyone they like. This is all with Trump’s explicit approval.
Both the mayor of Portland and the governor of Oregon have asked the federal brownshirts to leave. They have so far ignored those requests.
The violence goes beyond “mere” detention and interrogation. Innocent people are being injured. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Not a Nazi) said:
A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police. Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) July 16, 2020
Wyden is right as far as he goes, but others are going further — and correctly so, in my view. According to Zakir Khan of the Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations:
I think Portland is a test case. They want to see what they can get away with before launching into other parts of the country.
Jann Carson of the Oregon chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says the arrests of Pettigrew and others are “flat-out unconstitutional:”
Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping. Protesters in Portland have been shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, and repeatedly tear-gassed by uninvited and unwelcome federal agents. We won’t rest until they are gone.
The protests, which began in response to the murder of George Floyd, have not slowed down in Portland. And even though Portland is also home to a contingent of “Black Bloc” anarchists who like to mix it up in the streets, what violence has been promulgated in the Portland protests largely comes from two sources: law enforcement “officials” and white supremacists. In recent days, the protests have been remarkably peaceful and violence-free…until Trump’s brownshirts stormed the streets. They came throwing canisters of tear gas and firing indiscriminately into the crowd (usually with “less lethal” ordnance, which is exactly as bad as you think it sounds).
What violence has been carried out by protesters? Spray-painting graffiti on the federal courthouse.
That was more than enough for Chad Wolf, who apparently lusts to become Trump’s Heinrich Himmler. He said in a statement posted on the DHS website:
The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.
He added, “A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice – to attack it is to attack America.” Again, no, Chad, fuck no. The only thing that can be construed as an “attack on America” is the mobilization of unidenfied minions to attack and detain civilians with no warrants and no probable cause.
Wolf then went on to blame the “local and state leaders” in Oregon who, he says, “are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day.”
Wolf says “[t]his siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them.”
To “prove” his lies, Wolf provided a list of “violent offenses.” There are at least two accusations of breaking a window at the courthouse, two of destroying fencing surrounding the courthouse, one of “removing” fencing around the courthouse to facilitate spray-painting the sides of the building, one of cutting a hole in the fence, one of trying to remove wooden barriers, one of destroying a card reader on the building, one of tearing down plywood coverings to break windows, and at least 15 accusations of spraying graffiti on the courthouse and other buildings. There’s one instance of someone “firebombing” the courthouse, which was quickly put out, probably by someone stepping on the cheap Molotov cocktail that was thrown by an idiot (see “Black Bloc” above), and no doubt provoked a large-scale attack on the largely peaceful citizens who are all apparently “violent anarchists.”
There’s also an accusation of throwing some sort of “metal pipes” at the courthouse, and one of “provoking” a tear gas attack by “throwing animal seed” at the federal goons. What the hell is “animal seed”? Dogshit would be my guess. Stinky, but not nearly as lethal as those hard rubber bullets Wolf’s SS troops like to shoot protesters in the face with.
The only actual “attacks” on the federales, aside from the “animal seed” barrage, are these: “[V]iolent anarchists attempted to cause eye damage to officers with commercial grade lasers.” In other words, protesters flashed the officers with keychain lasers. Maybe they thought the officers would chase the lasers instead of attack them? Then there’s this: “A group of over 200 violent anarchists blocked access to the building and proceeded to launch aerial fireworks at federal property.” “Aerial fireworks”? Bottle rockets? Roman candles? And what do you want to bet those “200 violent anarchists” were 198 peaceful protesters and two idiots with fireworks from Walmart? Another accusation has the usual “violent anarchists” shooting “mortar-style fireworks” at the attackers. Wow, just like the Viet Cong, hey, Wolf? Some rocks were apparently thrown, as were “paint-filled balloons,” undoubtedly putting the goons in fear for their lives and provoking more tear gas and whatever other “less lethal” assaults they have.
There’s more, but it’s all the same thing. Quite a bit of minor property damage, some rocks, some fireworks, laser pointer “attacks,” a “firebombing” that didn’t amount to much, and dog poo. In return, according to the Post, the federal thugs ignored an Oregon state law banning the use of tear gas or other “chemical irritants,” and shot several protesters with rubber bullets, fracturing at least one protester’s skull.
CBP acting commissioner Mark Morgan says every protester in the streets is a criminal, and added:
[T]he Department of Justice is going to be involved in this, DHS is going to be involved in this; and we’re really going to take a stand across the board. And we’re going to do what needs to be done to protect the men and women of this country.
Oh, goody. An across-the-board federal response.
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said:
I am proud to be among the loud chorus of elected officials calling for the federal troops in Portland’s streets to go home. Their presence here has escalated tensions and put countless Portlanders exercising their First Amendment rights in greater danger.
Trump thinks what is going on in Portland is terrific. Like Wolf, he blames the hordes of “violent anarchists” who they characterize as running amok in the streets, looting, burning and killing. (Reality check: very little looting, very little burning, and no killing.) Trump said a few days ago:
We’ve done a great job in Portland. Portland was totally out of control, and they went in, and I guess we have many people right now in jail. We very much quelled it, and if it starts again, we’ll quell it again very easily. It’s not hard to do, if you know what you’re doing.
Of course, every word in that statement was a lie, including “a,” “and,” and “the.” Protesters are refusing to disperse, that’s true. And why should they? George Floyd is still dead. The police in Portland had somewhat slowed their roll, but now the SS has opened fire on the protesters.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D-Not a Nazi) said Wolf is on a “mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes,” and added:
This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.
As Pettibone told the Post:
Once you’re out on the street and you’ve been tear-gassed and you see that there’s no reason — the police will claim that there’s a riot just so they can use tear gas — it makes you want to go out there even more to see if there can be any kind of justice.
There is a very small contingent of “violent anarchists” on the streets of Portland. Most of the protester are peaceful citizens who want justice. But the Portland streets are now aswarm with violent fascists determined to trample civil liberties and enforce what is essentially martial law.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.