Trump Invades Portland

In an approximation of the kind of thing America used to declare war on other countries for, Donald Trump has invaded Portland.

The United States has, effectively, declared war on its own citizens for using their First Amendment rights to protest police brutality. American citizens have been teargassed, disappeared into unmarked vans, arrested without cause, and critically injured at the behest of the Department of Homeland Security. Officers from the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection's BORTAC have been sent, supposedly, to protect a federal courthouse from supposed "violent anarchists" who might "graffiti" it, and this is the way they are handling that mission.

On Sunday, July 11, protestor Donavan LaBella was hospitalized in critical condition after being shot in the head with supposedly "less-lethal" ammunition by a US Marshal. The unmarked vans pulling people off the street and detaining them for no reason have been there since July 14. People are scared to death and they have every reason to be. This is, quite literally, what fascism looks like.

Videos of the siege have been captured by protesters — they are, be forewarned, extremely disturbing.

Again, this is over "graffiti."

Protester Mark Pettibone told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he was pulled into a van by armed officers, handcuffed, with his beanie pulled over his head, after having done nothing but stand around wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland.

Via Oregon Public Radio:

Blinded by his hat, in an unmarked minivan full of armed people dressed in camouflage and body armor who hadn't identified themselves, Pettibone said he was driven around downtown before being unloaded inside a building. He wouldn't learn until after his release that he had been inside the federal courthouse.

Pettibone said he was put into a cell. Soon after, two officers came in to read him his Miranda rights. They didn't tell him why he was being arrested. He said they asked him if he wanted to waive his rights and answer some questions, but Pettibone declined and said he wanted a lawyer. The interview was terminated, and about 90 minutes later he was released. He said he did not receive any paperwork, citation or record of his arrest.

The US Marshal's office denies having arrested him. If they're not responsible for kidnapping Pettibone, then who is? Are they lying? Does Trump perhaps now have his own secret police force, Pinochet-style? How are we to know? So far, they have only officially "arrested" a grand total of 13 people. You don't need federal agents to arrest 13 people for protesting police brutality.

This is all being done against the wishes of Mayor Ted Wheeler and Gov. Kate Brown, and Brown has said that she believes this is merely an election stunt to make Trump look like a big tough guy.

Via Willamette Week:

"This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety," Brown said. "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." [...]

"I told acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets," Brown said. "His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm's way. This, coming from the same president who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., to engineer a photo opportunity."

Brown accused the president of provoking violence in order to appear tough on crime to suburban voters. "Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa," she said.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf (yes, really), who arrived in Portland on Wednesday, has refused to withdraw the federal officers at the request of Gov. Brown and Mayor Wheeler, saying that the DHS has a right to protect the federal courthouse that activists have been protesting near.

"The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city," Wolf said. "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."

Right. Federal facilities. Buildings. Inanimate objects. That are not actually "under siege" by anyone. They have a solemn duty to protect these federal facilities and if they need to kidnap protesters and throw them into vans and jail cells without officially arresting them or putting anything on the record, if they need to shatter some face bones with "less-lethal" ammunition, if they need to teargas American citizens who are simply exercising their right to assemble, then that is what they will do.

Portland will not likely be the only city this happens to. Trump announced plans this week to bring "Federal action" to cities across the United States, including Seattle, Minneapolis, and Chicago.

How far is this going to go? As far as it's allowed to.

[Oregon Public Radio]

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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