Although Donald Trump has threatened journalists with lawsuits and stripped a top CNN reporter of his White House credentials temporarily, the president still tends to tolerate the press — barely. That is fortunate, because POTUS has gone off the rails into the authoritarian territory in more than one area.
The president can legally place his police forces in cities to protect federal buildings and statues. In Portland, Oregon, unidentified individuals in unmarked cars have grabbed protesters off of the street without explanation and sped away. In Trump’s last three and one-half months left in office, he is bringing out his big guns.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler appeared on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning. He told host Jake Tapper that he was very unhappy with Trump for dispatching his federal law enforcement into Portland. Wheeler condemned the tactic.
Their cars appear to be rentals, so the tactics just make matter worse. Imagine what it must be like for immigrants who faced this continuously since Trump took office.
Speaking with host Jake Tapper, the Democratic mayor said:
‘What they are doing is 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 her. In fact, we want them to leave.’
Asked if they were breaking the law, the mayor said “absolutely:”
‘The tactics that the Trump administration are using on the streets of Portland are abhorrent. As far as I can see, this is completely unconstitutional.’
The acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf visited Portland last Thursday to tour the federal courthouse damage. Wolf claimed, according to NPR:
‘A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice…To attack it is to attack America.’
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely (D) noted in a tweet Wolf was trying to show Trump looking “tough,” but he should just go home:
‘Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face. These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence.’
Mark Pettibone and his friend Mark Hatfield were walking home after a relatively quiet evening of protests at the Multnomah Country Justice Center. The Portland Police Bureau and federal law enforcement officers were not apparent.
Then, a group warned them there were people wearing camouflage and driving around in unmarked minivans snatching people right off of the street. Pettibone said in an NPR report:
‘So that was terrifying to hear.’
‘[Then] I see guys in camo. Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, “Oh shit. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.”‘
Apparently, Trump’s plan to handle protests was sending officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC.’
Thus far, these officers have arrested 13 people charged with “crimes related to the protests.” According to the OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting):
‘They also left one demonstrator hospitalized with skull fractures after shooting him in the face with so-called “less lethal” munitions July 11.’
O’Shea took a video and narrated it:
‘Feds are driving around, grabbing people off the streets. I didn’t do anything fucking wrong. I’m recording this. I had to let somebody know that this is what happens.’
They caught Pettibone who later reported:
‘I am basically tossed into the van. And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.’
Neither Pettibone or O’Shea knew why they were picked up. The were not “instigators,” did not spray paint buildings, or point lasers at the police. However, law enforcement called the protests “unlawful assemblies.”
After armed people wearing body armor grabbed Pettibone, they blinded him with his hat and went to a building. He would not know until later it was the federal courthouse:
‘It was basically a process of facing many walls and corners as they patted me down and took my picture and rummaged through my belongings. One of them said, “This is a whole lot of nothing.”‘
They put him in a cell and gave him his Miranda Rights, but not why they arrested him. They asked him whether he wanted to waive his rights, but he said no and asked for an attorney.
They released him after about one and one-half hours with no paperwork. Pettibone said:
‘I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland.’
The U.S. Marshals Service said their officers had not arrested Pettibone:
‘All United States Marshals Service arrestees have public records of arrest documenting their charges. Our agency did not arrest or detain Mark James Pettibone.’
Director of the Civil Rights Project at the Oregon justice Resosurce Center Attorney Juan Chavez found the arrest “terrifying:”
‘It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay. You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests. It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.’
Civil Rights Attorney with the National Lawyers Guiild Ashlee Albines said this was an example of intimidation. She said people have “a First Amendment right to demonstrate:”
‘I would be surprised to see that pulling up in an unmarked van, grabbing people off the street is an acceptable policy for a criminal investigation.’
Mayor Wheeler said:
‘We do not need or want their help. The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether.’
Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown calling their intrusion a “mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes” and said “leave:”
‘This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.’
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.
The Mueller Report Adventures: In Bite-Sizes on this Facebook page. These quick, two-minute reads interpret the report in normal English for busy people. Mueller Bite-Sizes uncovers what is essentially a compelling spy mystery. Interestingly enough, Mueller Bite-Sizes can be read in any order.