Black Lives Matter, defund police and social justice protests were in every state in America starting in late May, following the murder of George Floyd. In some states, the number and size of the protests has dropped off. But in Portland, Oregon, there have been 50 days and 50 nights of protests. I would have thought that this would be kind of obvious given the demographics or Portland, a city which has become younger, more diverse and more liberal in recent decades. Of course Portlanders are protesting, you know?
What’s completely strange is that the Trump administration wants to make an example of Portland, and they want to pretend that Portland is some kind of outlier, that protesters have taken control of the city (they have not), or that local leaders have not been able to handle the situation. Which is why the Department of Homeland Security – we think? – has sent into federal agents or military or WHO KNOWS into Portland. These heavily armed and violent federal agents are causing havoc in Portland, they’re beating and tear-gassing protesters and they’re also picking up protesters and unlawfully detaining them for hours or days, all without arresting them or even identifying which department or branch of government they work for. This is unconstitutional. The mayor of Portland had some stuff to say:
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said President Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on in his city, adding that the Trump administration’s tactics in the area “are abhorrent.”
“Well, the president has a complete misunderstanding of cause and effect,” Wheeler said in responding to Trump’s Sunday morning tweet about Portland. “What’s happening here is, we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they’re doing is, they are sharply escalating the situation. Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. And it’s not helping the situation at all. They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”
The president earlier Sunday tweeted that his administration is “trying to help Portland, not hurt it.” “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators,” he wrote. “They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”
The tweet comes as the increased federal presence in Portland has come under intense scrutiny following videos posted online showing agents, who were not clearly identified, hauling away protesters in unmarked vans. Videos on social media also showed federal officers in camouflage aiming weapons and using smoke against protesters.
Speaking Sunday, Wheeler said he believes the Trump administration is breaking the law with its usage of a federal policing force in his city. “The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent,” he said. “People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are being denied probable cause and they’re denied due process. They don’t even know who’s pulling them into the vans. The people aren’t identifying themselves. And, as far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional.”
This NBC News story included a piece of information which I did not know, which is that the US Attorney for the Portland area, a man named Billy J. Williams, claims that the federal authorities are in Portland because protesters are targeting federal buildings or federal property. That… would still be unconstitutional, to have federal DHS or actual Army people protecting an office building in Portland, but that’s not even what’s actually happening. Mayor Wheeler is correct – these are armed federal people, wearing camouflage (for some reason), purposefully clashing with protesters and scooping up people on the street and shoving them into vans. This is kidnapping, unlawful detention, etc. And I still don’t understand WHY it’s Portland.
The moms have formed a line on the street in front of the Federal Courthouse. The chant of “I don’t see no riot here, take off your riot gear” continues, led by them. #PortlandMoms. #portland #PortlandProtest #portlandprotests #PortlandOregon #PortlandOR #oregon #BLMprotest #PDX pic.twitter.com/GdqjkRRHu6
— Clypian (@Clypian) July 20, 2020
The feds in Portland just indiscriminately launched tear gas at the Moms and started firing pepper rounds and everyone. Horrifying.
— Joshua Potash (@JoshuaPotash) July 20, 2020
Photos courtesy of Getty.