UPDATE (07/24/20). A federal judge denied AG Rosenblum’s request for a temporary restraining order against federal authorities based on a lack of evidence that seizing protesters and using excessive force is a widespread problem.
On Friday July 17th, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued the federal government for violating Oregonians’ civil rights by seizing and detaining them without probable cause. Rosenblum took this step after the Trump administration reignited late night protests in Portland, Oregon by escalating force used by federal law enforcement protecting federal property. Clad in camouflage riot gear marked only with generic police patches, these militarized federal police used harsh tactics like shooting protesters with impact munitions, extensive use of tear gas and grabbing people off the street in unmarked vehicles without provocation or apparent cause.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf defended this response to what he termed the “violent anarchists” by presenting a long list of “lawless destruction and violence” that appears to amount to excessive graffiti. Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cucinelli defended this escalation and indicated that it would use the same tactics in other cities.
The willingness of the Trump administration to use this flimsy excuse to threaten, intimidate and terrorize protesters is a sharp pivot toward authoritarianism in order to maintain the power of an unpopular president and his regime, and it should concern every American. Urge your Governor and State Attorney General to pledge to resist this tactic in their state and stand with Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum’s action to push back.