Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland

Sergio Olmos, Mike Baker, and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, reporting from Portland for The New York Times:

Federal agents dressed in camouflage and tactical gear have taken to the streets of Portland, unleashing tear gas, bloodying protesters and pulling some people into unmarked vans in what Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon has called “a blatant abuse of power.”

The extraordinary use of federal force in recent days, billed as an attempt to tamp down persistent unrest and protect government property, has infuriated local leaders who say the agents have stoked tensions.

“This is an attack on our democracy,” Mayor Ted Wheeler of Portland said. […]

In a statement issued on Friday, Customs and Border Protection said agents who made the arrest had information that indicated a suspect had assaulted federal authorities or damaged property and that they moved him to a safer location for questioning. The statement said that the agents identified themselves but that their names were not displayed because of “recent doxxing incidents against law enforcement personnel.”

We don’t have secret police in the United States. Well, we didn’t.

Ken Klippenstein, reporting for The Nation:

While many people have criticized the alleged lawlessness of the arrests, some even engaging in conspiracy theories about them, these arrests are likely legal, according to current and former federal law enforcement officials interviewed by The Nation. And that’s exactly what makes them so troubling, explains Jenn Budd, a former senior Border Patrol agent.

“During the DC protest, many federal agents removed their insignia,” Budd explained, referring to a June 1 protest in front of the White House where protesters were teargassed. “What the agencies discovered was that they could do this without much blowback from Congress,” Budd explained.

A former senior DHS intelligence officer explained that while other federal agencies are required to wear identifiers when conducting arrests — NCIS agents have to wear both marked jackets and hats during arrests, for example — that is not the case with the DHS. “The fact is, they don’t have to do anything in marked vehicles,” he said. “Such operations happen all the time and at the discretion of supervisors.”

More fuel for the argument that the entire Department of Homeland Security should be disbanded.

Friday, 17 July 2020