By Associated Press • 

Oregon officials decry arrests by federal agents in Portland

[Updated at 11:30 a.m. with detail on outcry against federal officers detaining people in Portland]

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal agents in green camouflage uniforms have been taking into custody people in the streets of Portland, not close to federal property that they were sent to protect, in what the ACLU of Oregon on Friday said “should concern everyone in the United States.”

“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,” said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said President Donald Trump, who deployed Department of Homeland Security officers to Portland, “is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa.”

“Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government,” Brown, a Democrat, said in a statement late Thursday.

Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far in Portland, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday. Some have been detained by the federal courthouse, which has been the scene of protests. But others were grabbed blocks away.

One video showed two individuals in helmets and green camouflage with “police” patches grabbing a person on the sidewalk, handcuffing them and taking them into an unmarked vehicle.

“Who are you?” someone asks the pair, who do not respond. At least some of the federal officers deployed in Portland belong to the Department of Homeland Security.

“Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, said in a tweet.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations Oregon chapter said in a statement: “We are now seeing escalating tactics with protesters being unlawfully detained by unknown Federal law enforcement entities."

On Thursday night, federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters in Portland, hours after the the head of the Department of Homeland Security visited the city and called the demonstrators, who are protesting racism and police brutality, “violent anarchists.”

Video showed many protesters leaving the area near the federal courthouse late Thursday as smoke filled the air.

During a visit to Portland earlier Thursday, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said state and city authorities are to blame for not putting an end to the protests, angering local officials.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local officials have said they didn’t ask for help from federal law enforcement and have asked them to leave.

A few hundred people had gathered near the federal courthouse Thursday night, news outlets reported. Police told protesters to leave after announcing they heard some chanting about burning down the building, according to The Oregonian.

A short time later, federal officers fired rounds and deployed tear gas to break up the crowd. Some protesters remained in the area early Friday and were detained, but it was unclear whether any arrests were made, the newspaper reported.

Homeland Security Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said Friday morning on “Fox & Friends” that the federal government has a responsibility to protect buildings such as the courthouse.

“What we’ve seen around the country is where responsible policing is advanced, violence recedes,“ Cuccinelli said. ”And Portland hasn’t gotten that memo. Nor have a lot of other cities. And the president is determined to do what we can, within our jurisdiction, to help restore peace to these beleaguered cities.”

The Department of Homeland Security had no immediate comment when reached by The Associated Press on Friday.

Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks, particularly after an officer with the U.S. Marshals Service fired a less-lethal round at a protester’s head on July 11, critically injuring him.

The protests in Oregon’s largest city following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have often devolved into violent clashes between smaller groups and the police. The unrest has caused deep divisions in a city that prides itself on its activism and progressive reputation.

___

Selsky reported from Salem.

Comments

Rotwang

They should have nipped this in the bud six weeks ago. Now, it will take years for Portland to return as a place that people want to visit.

Don Dix

What? 49 consecutive nights of violence or criminal activity of some sort, and that's not reason enough to do something different?

So, why didn't Brown or Wheeler divulge their master plan? Not only is it probable they don't have one, it's clear they also don't have a clue!

tagup

I agree that more can be done to control the violence....but not by Federal agents....They have no business doing law enforcement outside of protection of federal property. Unmarked agents in unmarked vehicles rounding people up is not acceptable....

GRM

@tagup. Agreed. Is there any proof that these are federal officers ? All that reminds me of Germany in the years before 1933. SA “marschiert” ( Braunschweig/Berlin )

tagup

There is video and it appears that the feds don’t deny it...

GRM

Thank you. Well, then we better pay attention that we don’t repeat history in our great country.

RobsNewsRegister

>A few hundred people had gathered near the federal courthouse Thursday night

Wait, I thought we weren't supposed to gather in groups larger than 10 and maintain social distancing at all times? I guess the 'mostly peaceful protestors' have been exempt from the rules and laws for almost two months now anyway. Goodness. How are we suppose to take anything from a government pushing masks etc. seriously when they rarely if ever criticize the night after night of large groups protesting, often rioting, while sometimes committing arson, vandalism, and looting for good measure?

aim

@RobsNewsRegister
Clearly you aren’t paying attention. The limit of 10 people gathers is for indoor only. The social distancing requirements of outdoors aren’t required with masks on.

RobsNewsRegister

@aim

It depends on the county. Multnomah county is still in phase-1 overall (see link). The county didn't even reach phase 1 until June 19th. There should have been no group gatherings for protests at all before then but as we know they were every day since late May. Under phase 1 " Local gatherings must: Limit local gatherings to 10 with no traveling". I would presume the rules 'stack on top' of each other so that any county past phase-1 now still limits to 10 indoors regardless. I must admit - it is getting rather confusing with so many different guidelines.

https://govstatus.egov.com/reopening-oregon

Don Dix

Yesterday, Wheeler revealed his strategy -- do nothing and hope things quiet down -- and then 'blamed' the feds for escalating the issue -- B.S.

So 50 nights of the violence, looting, and rioting is the fault of an agency that has only been in Portland for a few days -- deflecting responsibility or looking the other way are the only actions Oregon and Portland have taken since late May? That's not leadership, that's cowering!

Treehouse

Aside from any debate about the legality or propriety of these tactics by CBP law enforcement, perhaps an even better question might be their effectiveness.

A pretty good example can be had nearby from twenty years ago during the WTO protests in Seattle. And while the Seattle Police may have followed nominally more legal and appropriate procedures, the effects were quite negligible, other than producing some huge civil liability awards.

Teams of three or more SPD officers would wade into crowds and, upon allegedly observing a criminal act, would make an arrest, search and zip-tie the suspect, and load them onto a bus. When the buses were full they were transported to a city park far from the downtown area, removed one at a time and booked, processed, cited, and released. As the actual arresting officers were not present at booking, the arrest affidavits were signed by only a few processing officers, who later had to admit that they did not witness the alleged criminal acts. All the cases were dismissed. And later the city's insurance carrier paid a large cash settlement.

All in all only a couple of hundred protesters were ever removed from the downtown area this way. This out of a total numbering at times around 40,000. So it was a logistically complicated, and very expensive undertaking that achieved almost nothing.

I suspect these tactics by CBP under the direction of the Acting Sec of Homeland Security will prove to be equally ineffective in terms of reducing any criminal activities. But I also suspect that is not the purpose of these tactics. My guess is this is more political theater than law enforcement.

Very expensive political theater.

Mudstump

Question: How do we know that these unmarked people aren't militia or some fringe group there to foment violence?

Treehouse

Mudstump,
The Acting Sec. of Homeland Security has avowed responsibility and identified the individuals identified in the Oregon AG lawsuit as Customs and Border Patrol officers. Deputy Sec. of Homeland Security Cuccinelli has confirmed and added that the authority arises from an Executive Order signed by the president at the end of June, and that it is the Acting Secretary's intention to expand to other cities in the weeks to come. Presumably in order to get more media coverage.

Mudstump

Treehouse - Yes, thank you. My point is that for quite awhile these agents were on acting on the streets of Portland unidentified before they were forced to reveal their identity. How is the average American supposed to know if their orders should be obeyed? How do we know they aren't some fringe militia group? They could be anyone for all we know. I would hesitate to go peacefully with them if instructed to get in a van. It's scary as heck and seems to be right out of a fascist playbook...imo. If you are detained by these agents what are your rights? Are rights being respected? If you have a grievance who do you address?

Mudstump

Just because someone sews a "POLICE" badge on the front of their uniform doesn't mean they are law enforcement. In addition, if they have no badge, badge number, name, or identifying agency what is a citizen's recourse? You have no way of knowing who they are....they drive unmarked vehicles. There are few things more dangerous to our democracy as this. It's truly alarming.

Treehouse

Mudstump, agreed.
Operationally these tactics, aside from being highly ineffective and almost guaranteed to grow the size of the demonstrations, are likely to produce real risks for regular law enforcement officers in Portland. If citizens are unable to know when they are being approached by armed individuals if they are legitimate law enforcement acting in lawful performance of their duty, then they may be entitled and even reasonably expected to ignore orders, evade the armed individuals, and even fight back as needed. That puts regular police at great risk.

Fortunately for all, the demonstration organizers have quickly responded by developing a counter-narrative imaging campaign. With great success so far, they are deploying naked people to ridicule the CBP BORTAC teams into retreating. Turns out it's very hard to make a grandiose show of military might for the cameras when you are opposed by bare naked ladies.

Bill B

Treehouse sayd; "Fortunately for all, the demonstration organizers have quickly responded by developing a counter-narrative imaging campaign"/

Who exactly is the all that are fortunate?

Don Dix

Why is it more important to some that law enforcement is identified than stopping the destruction in Portland? Are setting fires, breaking glass storefronts, spray-painting everything in reach, and looting retail establishments not crimes? As the right to assemble and protest is protected by the constitution, so are the rights of business owners to expect protection by law enforcement from these crimes. Brown, Wheeler, Portland city council, and others seem to care little for the losses sustained by innocent citizens just trying to make a living -- only to see it all destroyed in an overnight rampage.

There is more than one conversation to be had relating to the insanity that has occurred in Portland. Allowing the situation to continue (apparently the plan of Brown and Wheeler) is simply a timid, bewildered response!

GRM

W h a t ? It is more important to stop the riot than to identify the unidentified so called officers ? It is important to stop any kind of riot ! B u t even m o r e important is to make sure that we the people are not taken dragged into unmarked vans! Yes, there are more questions to be answered. Let’s go and figure out what r e a l l y is behind all this. But we have to stop these Mafia methods.

tagup

Federal agents taking action without alerting or coordinating with local Authorities is a big red flag......They need to stop their activities outside Federal property and stay in their lane....

Bill B

It's my understanding that Portland PD was aware of Homeland Security's activities. can't say that I'm keen on unmarked vehicles either, but I have no problem with the Feds stepping in when you have city leadership basically aiding and abetting criminal activity. Between the virus and riots, Portland's economy is beyond recovery, What a shame,

tagup

Beyond recovery?....not really....Portland is more than just the downtown area....

Bill B

Tagup - Really, that's your argument,

tagup

If you truly believe that Portland’s economy will never recover, I doubt any facts from me, Would change your mind......I’ll await the news of when the Port closes, and the Blazers move to Boise....

Treehouse

Bill B,
Citizens of Oregon are fortunate to have people clever enough, and willing to peacefully intervene and prevent these highly ineffective and almost certainly unconstitutional police tactics from continuing. The random anonymous kidnapping of small numbers of people does nothing to increase public safety or civic order. In fact, it can be fairly argued, and certainly our Attorney General is preparing to do so, that these BORTAC activities are reducing public safety in many ways.

I may be alone in this, but I'm not convinced by arguments that, since "something must be done" that "anything must be done". We should not be doing expensive, ineffective, and unlawful things. Especially if the only real reason for doing those expensive, ineffective, and unlawful things is in order to create sexy television images for political purposes. I'd rather not pay for it. I'd rather not pay for the lawyers, and litigation costs that have already arisen because of it. And I'd rather not see any of my fellow Oregonians pay for it by being kidnapped and beaten up by unsupervised and improperly trained employees.

treefarmer


I wake up every morning and hope the destruction of our democracy has not progressed any further - and every morning I am more deeply distressed than the day before.

The essential institutions of America have been systematically dismantled which, among many other alarming abuses, has resulted in appalling mismanagement of the Covid crisis and caused unnecessary illness, death, and financial chaos. A totally unqualified Trump crony (and major donor) has been put in charge of the Post Office to disable our ability to vote by mail and provide a way to undermine the legitimacy of the November election. The “royal family” has perverted all the norms and ethics that used to keep corruption in check. And now paramilitary agents are being directed to hide their identities, kidnap citizens right off the street, and detain them without cause. (Most recently a Navy Veteran was confronted and assaulted.) THIS IS NOT LAW AND ORDER, it is unconstitutional thugocracy that brings us just another step closer to fascism. I am saddened and frightened that some among us offer the “ends justify the means” argument. Looting, vandalism, and violence are all unacceptable under any circumstances but peaceful protesters, exercising our cherished First Amendment rights, should not be tarred with the same brush, or brutalized by our current power-mad authoritarian regime.

A very famous lady wisely advised, “When someone tells you who they are, believe them the first time” We should certainly be WELL-ACQUAINTED by now.

Bill B

I really don't get it. The commenters here all seem to be law abiding citizens and yet they have no problem with Portland being destroyed. These are not innocent protesters, they are criminals.

tagup

I don’t see ANY commenters that have indicated they have “no problem “ with the destruction ...
The problem is a Politically motivated federal response that appears to be exceeding its authority so the administration can look strong to it’s base.

Bill B

Uh, the point is that no one us speaking to the elephant in the room; criminal intent. All that you are consumed with is making a political statement. Shame on you! How can you sit back and not be concerned by the violence in Portland. Sad.

tagup

Did Christopher David have criminal intent?....did the guy shot in the head by a dummy round From federal agents,have criminal intent?..There are hundreds of people that are exercising their rights by protesting (and not looting or rioting) is giving them a beating for no reason ok with you?
Seems there is plenty of criminal intent to go around....I feel zero shame for.calling out thugs no matter who they are. I’m disappointed you can only see criminal intent on one side of the conflict.......

treefarmer


Hey Bill B – Here is a quote from my post:

“Looting, vandalism, and violence are all unacceptable under any circumstances…….”

Would you be inclined to explain how you arrived at the conclusion I have “….no problem with Portland being destroyed.” That is quite an accusation.

I certainly am a law-abiding citizen and I care deeply about the safety of our Portland neighbors and the destruction that is occurring to their city nightly. I do, however, take issue with your opinion that the protesters are all criminals with criminal intent. The majority of those folks are patriotic Americans demonstrating for something they believe in. That is legal, a constitutionally guaranteed RIGHT. The crime and the shame is in the way they are being kidnapped and assaulted.

Treehouse

Bill B, I think most Oregonians are concerned about preventing criminal activity, especially in association with otherwise lawful political demonstrations. But I can't see how unlawful police activities that increase the level of unlawfulness will help.

We should not be looking for "proportion" in response to unlawfulness. This is not warfare. Proportional response isn't an element of an effective criminal justice system. If we choose to react to pointless, angry violence and destruction with our own pointless, angry violence and destruction all we end up with is more pointless, angry violence and destruction.

America can do better than this. In the past we've shown the world what it means to be a nation built on human rights and equal justice. We built a political and criminal justice system that was a model for the other aspiring democracies. We shouldn't throw all that away in a moment of frustration.

Don Dix

For 7 weeks, Portland leaders allowed protesters to pretty much do as they pleased. And most of those taken into custody were released without charges, only to return and do more damage. Looking the other way was about the only plan.

Just this morning (Tue), mayor Wheeler declared that the violence ramped-up after the feds arrived. So all the breaking of glass, looting, spray-painting buildings, setting of fires, and confronting law enforcement has occurred in just the last week. Those affected business owners who have been victims would not agree. Every act of lawlessness has been going on all along whether Wheeler admits it or not (the local news has filmed throughout this fiasco, proving Wheeler's account is phony or a convenient lie).

And that's where Wheeler, as well as Brown, have taken the opportunity to handcuff the police and then politicize the federal reaction. Basically, it's been a do-nothing approach and then childishly blame someone else. One would have to be completely daft or so politically motivated not to notice the hypocrisy, if one has paid attention throughout.

tagup

Clearly, if they were released without charges, Law enforcement didn’t have enough evidence to make a case....(not sure how you know they returned to do more damage).
Probable cause is a pretty important tenet for detaining people....wouldn’t you agree?

RobsNewsRegister

As an Independent Libertarian, I am totally on board with peacefully protesting, but from the volumes and volumes of video that is not what is happening much of the time, especially at night. Recently, tearing town fences to gain entry to vandalize or set fires (like was done to the Police Union building in Portland the other night), throwing projectiles and fireworks, assaulting police officers defending the buildings, is not protest. Goodness, they are painting areas of one of the federal buildings in downtown Portland daily because of nightly graffiti.

The last count I heard was that, nationwide, twelve police officers have died so far and 1,200 injured though. Below is a list compiled in early June.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/06/05/heres-a-list-of-the-police-killed-or-injured-in-the-last-weeks-violence/

RobsNewsRegister

I have to admit, I am becoming more outraged by the day. The anarchists are using lasers nationwide against law enforcement officers protecting our nation. You can see the lasers being directed at the officers in a lot of the videos of the so-called ‘peaceful protests’. It now sadly appears some of the officers protecting our federal buildings in Portland have suffered permanent eye injuries.

Using lasers to permanently blind our police officers is tantamount to a 'war crime' as it violates the International Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons. The United States is one of the 108 signatories. It would actually be illegal to do this in combat.

https://www.foxnews.com/us/portland-riots-federal-officers-blinded-lasers-fireworks-doxed

Similar to a Geneva Convention restriction
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Protocol_on_Blinding_Laser_Weapons

Finch

I'm right there with you Rob. And these mayors who have NO control over anything are continuing to allow this mess and garbage to continue on. Who would have thought this is where we would be? I feel so bad for these officers who get up every day and go out there not knowing what may be thrown or tossed at them or worse. I heard something recently where a wife of a police officer said that the best sound she hears is the sound of her husband coming home and undoing that velcro because it means he's home safe. I said it in earlier posts and was called out but it's true the high number of officers putting in for retirement and/or quitting altogether. They don't get paid enough to put their lives out there like this particularly in this environment and with this lack of protection and respect. This is nothing for anarchy.