Kate Brown, Oregon Governor, has accused federal agents of abuse of power during the George Floyd protests in Portland. The federal agents in unmarked cars deployed by President Trump apparently detaining demonstrators also charged them with tear gas and less-lethal munitions. Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called the protesters a “violent mob”. Activists are on the streets against police brutality since the killing of the African-American in police custody on May 25, 2020.
A paper from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) carried detailed accounts of the witnesses who have seen the Federal agents dressed in camouflage drop out of unmarked vehicles, threw protesters in their mobiles and drive away. The last week has already been marred by the violent confrontation between protesters and the law enforcement deployed two weeks ago by Mr. Trump to neutralize the civil unrest.
Oregon Public Broadcasting since at least July 14 has reporting about the federal law enforcement personnel hopping out of the blank vehicles throughout the city to arrest the protesters apparently without any reason. A video received and analyzed by the broadcaster shows a protester, Mark Pettibone describe on how he was basically tossed into an SUV packed with armed people in body armor on July 15, 2020.
Mr. Pettibone said he was taken to a holding cell in a federal courthouse where he was read his arrest rights. After he declined to respond the questions, he was freed without any citation or arrest record. As per Public Broadcasting network in Oregon, the federal officers have charged more than a dozen people for crimes related to the demonstration so far. Some of the 13 protesters are under the detention of federal courthouse but others were transported to some different place streets away from the federal property.
The acting secretary of homeland security arrived in the city on Thursday to have a meeting with the federal law enforcement and defended his men (the agents) against the anarchists contributing to the social disorder.
In a nearly 17,000-word statement, Mr. Chad Wolf admonished state and city authorities in Portland for failing to maintain and restore order. He said their weak and slow response had “emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day”.
“The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days,” he added.
“Each night the violent anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”
Mr. Secretary’s comments just resound Mr. Trump’s remarks which he made this week in an attempt to cheer up the federal agents in Portland. He applauded the efforts and work of the officers saying that they had done a “great job”.
“Portland was totally out of control, and they went in, and I guess we have many people right now in jail,” he said at a press conference on Monday. “We very much quelled it, and if it starts again, we will quell it again very easily.”
The Democratic governor of the western US state criticized the Republican President for resorting to heavy-handedness for political point-scoring. Detaining people seemingly without a cause, Mr. Brown’s spokesperson, Charles Boyle, said on Friday is “extraordinarily concerning and a violation of their civil liberties and constitutional rights.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other members from the local government said they did not call for assistance from federal law enforcement and have asked them to leave.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Mr. Wheeler said on Friday.
The American Civil Liberties Union also decried the actions of the federal agents.
“Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping,” the organization tweeted. “These actions are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi who chairs US House of Representatives as its Speaker, accused the Republican president of sending “stormtroopers” to stem the peaceful protests.
“Unidentified stormtroopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping Protesters and causing server injuries in response to graffiti. These are not the actions of a democratic republic. @DHSgov’s actions in Portland undermine its mission. Trump & his stormtroopers must be stopped,” the speaker tweeted.
CPB: Customs and Broader Protection agency in US confirmed its role in at least one of the detentions. Talking to an online news magazine, CBP spokesman said his agents had reason be believe the individual was involved in breaking the law, assaulted the officers and attacked the federal property so they “quickly moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioning”.
“Violent anarchists have organized events in Portland over the last several weeks with willful intent to damage and destroy federal property, as well as injure federal officers and agents.” A CBP spokesman told US media. “These criminal actions will not be tolerated.”