The Battle Of Portland Heads To Court
Portland is under attack. Armed men in military-style fatigues are roaming the streets and throwing people into unmarked minivans, shooting at peaceful protesters, and intimidating protesters who dare speak out against police brutality against Black Americans.
And, because we are here in the year of our Satan, 2020, these thugs are federal officers.
As we've previously written about here, here, and here, Donald Trump and acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf (yes, amazingly, that is his real name) have sent stormtroopers to Portland to harass, shoot at, and disappear people. These goons have been terrorizing protesters in the name of "law enforcement," with Wolf calling the protesters "violent anarchists" because of ... wait for it ... because of some graffiti.
Thankfully, the Oregon attorney general is fighting back. Friday night, state AG Ellen Rosenblum filed a complaint in federal court, seeking a stop to this fascist fuckery.
The complaint (posted below), styled Rosenblum v. John Does 1-10, alleges federal officials are violating the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments, as well as creating a "public nuisance" by unreasonably interfering with the general public's right to public safety, public peace, public comfort, and public convenience.
Rosenblum notes that federal officers "have engaged in actions endangering Oregon's citizens and the people walking Portland's streets," and have engaged "in unlawful law enforcement in violation of the civil rights of Oregon citizens by seizing and detaining them without probable cause." Her office is seeking a temporary restraining order and eventually a permanent injunction to put a stop to this absolute madness.
What's happening right now in Oregon is so utterly insane that it borders on unbelievable. And yet,
federal law enforcement officers ... have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers' unmarked vehicles, removing them from public without either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest, since at least Tuesday, July 14.
As the complaint notes,
Citizens peacefully gathering on the streets of Portland to protest racial inequality have the right to gather and express themselves under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The federal government's actions
are undertaken with the intent of discouraging lawful protest and therefore constitute an illegal prior restraint on the First Amendment right of Oregonians to peacefully protest racial inequality. Citizens who are reasonably afraid of being picked up and shoved into unmarked vans—possibly by federal officers, possibly by individuals opposed to the protests—will feel compelled to stay away, for their own personal safety, and will therefore be unable to express themselves in the way that they have the right to do.
The lawsuit names the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, the US Marshals Service, the Federal Protective Service, and 10 unidentified officers as defendants.
Of course, the feds haven't helped the Oregon Attorney General identify the people or agencies involved in this twaddle. Rather,
They have prevented the Attorney General from knowing which agencies and which officers are acting. [...] The identity of the officers is not known, nor is their agency affiliation, according to videos and reports that the officers in question wear military fatigues with patches simply reading "POLICE," with no other identifying information.
It's all fascist bullshit.
As of Monday morning, no hearings have been scheduled, but judges usually try to motions for handle temporary restraining orders quickly. For now, we'll just have to wait and see. And hope that, in the meantime, people like last night's amazing wall of moms continue to step in.Defendants' tactics violate the rights of all people detained without a warrant or a basis for arrest, and violate the state's sovereign interests in enforcing its laws and in protecting people within its borders from kidnap and false arrest, without serving any legitimate federal law enforcement purpose.
Oregon's citizens are at risk of kidnapping by militias and other civilian "volunteers" taking it onto themselves to pull peaceful protesters into their cars, in a manner that resembles the federal actions described above. And Oregon's own police agencies are therefore injured, by roving federal officers confusing citizens about whether they are obligated to comply with armed men ordering them into unmarked vans.
In one case,
in the early hours of Wednesday, July 15, Mark Pettibone alleges that he was confronted by armed men dressed in camouflage who took him off the street, pushed him into a van, and drove him through downtown until unloading him into a building, which is believed to have been the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.
And he's not the only one!
On information and belief, unidentified federal officers including John Does 1-10 have likewise detained other citizens off the Portland streets, without warning or explanation, without a warrant, and without providing any way to determine who is directing this action. There is no way of knowing, in the absence of those officers identifying themselves, whether only U.S. Customs and Border Protection is engaging in these actions. The Marshals Service and other Homeland Security agencies reportedly have been sent to Portland to respond to the protests against racial inequality.
As the lawsuit points out,
Oregonians have the right to walk through downtown Portland at night, and in the early hours of the morning.
Ordinarily, a person exercising his right to walk through the streets of Portland who is confronted by anonymous men in military-type fatigues and ordered into an unmarked van can reasonably assume that he is being kidnapped and is the victim of a crime.
Defendants are injuring the occupants of Portland by taking away citizens' ability to determine whether they are being kidnapped by militia or other malfeasants dressed in paramilitary gear (such that they may engage in self-defense to the fullest extent permitted by law) or are being arrested (such that resisting might amount to a crime).
The ACLU of Oregon has, of course, filed its own suit against the feds on behalf of protesters and legal observers. The ACLU suit "seeks to block federal law enforcement from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force against journalists or legal observers." And the civil rights organization has promised that there is more to come, noting that "[t]he lawsuit is one of many the ACLU will be filing against federal authorities in Portland for their unconstitutional attacks on people protesting the police killing of George Floyd."
Rosenblum and the ACLU are far from alone in objecting to the authoritarian tactics being used by federal ghouls. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (who is no friend of BLM protesters) and Oregon Governor Kate Brown have already told Trump's "personal army" that it is not wanted there, to no avail.
Here's the complaint!
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