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Portland Mayor to Trump: This Is 'an Absolute Abuse'

Words are flying after federal agents scooped up protesters in Oregon
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2020 11:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – Portland's mayor threw down the gauntlet Friday after federal agents—some wearing camouflage in unmarked minivans—were seen grabbing people off the streets, the AP reports. "Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city," Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a press conference in a message to President Trump. "This is part of the core media strategy out of Trump's White House: to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data. And it is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials." The agents have charged 13 protesters so far but also arrested people far from federal property the agents were assigned to protect. The ACLU calls it "extraordinarily concerning." For more:

  • The defense: "We're going to do our job," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told KPTV of the federal officers. "We're going to do it professionally. But we're not going to have these violent anarchists who show up about the same time every night for a series of hours, having that federal destruction to property."

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  • The accusation: Customs and Border Protection said Friday one arrest caught on video showed a suspect who had allegedly damaged property or assaulted federal agents, per the New York Times. CBP said agents identified themselves but didn't show their names due to "recent doxxing incidents against law enforcement personnel."
  • A lawsuit: The ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and US Marshals Service on Friday, accusing agents of acting "over the widespread objections of local leaders" and "indiscriminately using tear gas, rubber bullets, and acoustic weapons against protesters, journalists, and legal observers."
  • An investigation: US Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams called for an investigation Friday into the camouflaged agents' behavior, per KHSU. He said the officers defended the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse against "an onslaught of commercial fireworks, laser strikes, glass, mortars, paint and anything else near at hand," but in finding those responsible, may have acted questionably in "limited instances."
  • Was it legal? Washington officials cited 40 US Code 1315, which allows DHS to deputize other federal agents in guarding federal property and make arrests "on and off the property in question." But a historian tells the New York Times that this interpretation undermines other "checks and balances on DHS' power because the officers' power is effectively limitless and all encompassing."
  • A secret memo: The Nation has obtained an "internal talking points memo" for the CBP that tells officials not to say where CBP agents are deployed and for how long. It also says there's a special DHS task force—created in response to Trump's order to protect US monuments and memorials—tasked with assessing civil unrest and using extra resources to stop it.
  • No more ribs: City and county police shut down a makeshift kitchen in downtown Portland—aptly called Riot Ribs—that served free sausages, ribs, and chorizo tacos to protesters for 12 days, Eater reports. It was used by people in a park where protests have been buzzing despite police use of tear gas and rubber bullets.
  • Shot in the head: Portland protester Donavan LaBella was shot in the head by a "non-lethal" round and apparently suffered skull and facial fractures, KATU reports. The 26-year-old has undergone surgery and is responding to doctors. Wheeler called the shooting "unacceptable." The US Marshals Service is investigating.
(Read more protests stories.)

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