The continued presence of unmarked, unidentified federal officers roaming around the city scooping up protesters and bystanders in unmarked vans has spurred the U.S. attorney for Oregon to demand an investigation. “Based on news accounts circulating that allege federal law enforcement detained two protesters without probable cause, I have requested the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to open a separate investigation directed specifically at the actions of DHS personnel,” U.S. Attorney Bill Williams said Friday. Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden are introducing an amendment to the national defense authorization bill to force federal officers to have ID and insignia on their uniforms and require they remain on federal property unless requested by local authorities.
Those federal officers, The New York Times reported Saturday, “were not specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations” according to an internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo written just last week that the Times obtained. Meanwhile, Trump escalated the conflict Sunday, tweeting that he is “trying to help Portland, not hurt it” because “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!” Yes, they are the real deal. Citizens, including pregnant women and veterans, whose city has become Trump’s guinea pig for the kind of authoritarian control he has long admired in other world leaders and hoped to emulate.
“What is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the United States,” Jann Carson, the interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon, told the Times. “Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping. The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.” The ACLU is suing the DHS and the Marshal’s Service.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is also suing the DHS and other federal agencies for the “unlawful law enforcement in violation of the civil rights” of protesters and detaining people without probable cause. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “They are not wanted here, we have not asked them here, and in fact, we want them to leave. The tactics the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are horrid,” Wheeler continued. “As you indicated, people are literally being scooped off the street and into unmarked vans, rental cars apparently. They are being denied probable cause and due process. They don’t even know who is pulling them into the vans, the people are not identifying themselves. As far as I can see this is completely unconstitutional.”