Police building, courthouse burned. Cops violently attacked. Portland’s response? Sue the feds for trying to stop it.

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PORTLAND, OR – Since public demonstrations began after the death of George Floyd, Portland has been a hotbed of riots, violence and property damage.

As of earlier this month, business were reporting $23 million in damages.

Nightly riots have seen uncooperative crowds refusing to follow lawful dispersal orders from police, who have been repeatedly pelted with projectiles, including rocks, paint, ball bearings, and glass bottles.

City and state leaders, such as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Governor Kate Brown, have seemingly favored the violent agitators rather than the police trying to keep law and order in the city.

Now, after federal officers have been sent in to quell the violence and destruction in the city, those very agents are facing a lawsuit.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has stepped into the mix by filing a lawsuit.

The suit includes as defendants: the DHS, US Customs and Border Protection, US Marshall Service, and the Federal Protective Service, and “John Does 1-10,” unidentified agents.

Calling the defendants’ actions a “public nuisance,” the suit claims:

“On information and belief, federal law enforcement officers including John Does 1-10 have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers’ unmarked vehicles, removing them from public without either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest, since at least Tuesday, July 14.”

The suit alleges that persons detained would assume they are being kidnapped “by anonymous men in military-type fatigues,” and claims “injury” for those citizens who are unable to determine whether they are being kidnapped or arrested.

The suit makes mention of citizens “peacefully gathering,” with no mention of riotous activity, and claims:

“Defendants’ actions are undertaken with the intent of discouraging lawful protest and therefore constitute an illegal prior restraint on the First Amendment right of Oregonians to peacefully protest racial inequality.”

It goes on to say:

“Citizens who are reasonably afraid of being picked up and shoved into unmarked vans—possibly by federal officers, possibly by individuals opposed to the protests—will feel compelled to stay away, for their own personal safety, and will therefore be unable to express themselves in the way that they have the right to do.”

The suit also asserts violation of the Fourth Amendment, claiming officials “did not have a warrant to seize” individuals.  It also claimed that detainees were not afforded due process.

The suit calls for a restraining order to prevent further arrests.

It is ironic that Rosenblum refers to federal law enforcement officers as “anonymous”, which is a double standard because the instigators of violence are conveniently masked, which hides their identity and makes identifying suspects much more difficult.

Statements from officials contradict the implications and accusations that citizens are being pulled off the streets and whisked away without due process.

In response to complaints about a video showing two agents detaining a masked man dressed in black, Customs and Border Protection stated that they had detained the person as a suspect due to “assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property.”

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolfe tweeted:

“Attempted arson is not a peaceful protest.

“Physically attacking law enforcement is not freedom of speech.

“Destruction of property is not peaceful assembly.

“Criminals perpetrating these crimes are being arrested… not law abiding protesters.”

Earlier last week, Governor Brown admitted that:

“A group of protesters have repeatedly taken to the streets with the intent to destroy property. This group has repeatedly lit fires, thrown rocks, bottles, fireworks and other objects and have put the safety of others at risk.”

Yet the governor followed up by calling for tying the hands of police, saying:

“Use of force, regardless of its legal justification, will do nothing to solve the underlying concerns of racial justice and police accountability raised by the protests.”  

Mayor Wheeler has responded similarly.  He conceded that protesters:

“…continue to hurt small businesses owned by people of color, instill fear in communities of color, and start fires in buildings with people inside, in one specific case, even bolting emergency doors so that they could not escape.”

However, he immediately deflected to “concerns about police actions related to demonstration activity,” and asked:

“Under what circumstances, if any, should tear gas be used? When, specifically, can a gathering be declared unlawful? Who should make those calls? These are all legitimate questions.”

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PPB Union President Daryl Turner addressed such responses to the riots, saying:

“What angers me and the good people of Portland, even more, is that elected officials at the state and local levels are defending these criminal actions while in the same breath demonizing and vilifying the officers on the front lines protecting our communities, our safety, our livelihood, and our rights.”

With the city continuing to burn, President Trump sent federal law enforcement officers to Portland, with members from the DHS, the Border Patrol, and ICE.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolfe explained the presence of these agents, saying,

“Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders 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.”

He continued: 

“This 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. Again, I reiterate the Department’s offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists.”  

Public outcry ensued, of course, with persons complaining that the agents were “kidnapping” citizens.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw in her two cents, calling the federal law enforcement personnel “stormtroopers” and claiming they were “kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti.”

Mayor Wheeler clearly was not pleased with the presence of the federal officers helping his violent city. 

He said:

“I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help.

“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether. Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely. And in the meantime, I asked him to clean up the graffiti on local federal facilities.”

 

All law enforcement is asking for is the opportunity to bring order to the chaos in a city ravaged by violence.

Says Wolfe:

“What we’ve seen across the country is… when they let law enforcement do their job, go in, address these violent anarchists or violent activities, it will have a measurable impact.”

Yet officials in Portland and the state of Oregon continue to ignore or dismiss the millions of dollars of damage, the acts of violence, the burnings, the lootings, the assaults on peace officers, and support rioters whom they refer to as peaceful protesters.

Now Attorney General Rosenblum has doubled down by seeking to tie the hands of law enforcement further and permit continued rioting, all in the name of the First Amendment.

If this train isn’t stopped, there is only one way this will end.  And it will not be good.

 

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