A Democratic U.S. Senator from Oregon has shared a viral video that shows what he says are federal “unmarked authorities” in camouflage detaining a Portland protester clad in black and putting him in an unarmed van.
The video comes as rhetoric between federal and state authorities escalates in Portland, as President Donald Trump sends federal agents to the city’s streets.
Oregon’s governor has accused President Donald Trump of “deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland,” and Portland’s mayor called out a “heightened troop presence” by federal officials in that city, calling it a “coordinated strategy from the White House.” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf came to Portland, criticizing “violent anarchists.”
The viral video, which has been viewed millions of times, shows what appear to be camouflage-clad federal agents surrounding a man with his hands up who is wearing black before spiriting him into an unarmed vehicle.
That video, which has been viewed more than 4 million time, was shared by Senator Jeff Merkley, who wrote, “Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters. These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end.” A man in the video accused federal officers of “kidnapping people.”
Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters. These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end. pic.twitter.com/PE4YfZ9Vqd
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) July 16, 2020
The senator also wrote of another incident, “Federal forces shot an unarmed protester in the face. These shadowy forces have been escalating, not preventing, violence. If @DHS_Wolf is coming here to inflame the situation so @realDonaldTrump can look like a tough guy, he should turn around and leave our city now.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Governor Called Federal Officers on the Streets of Portland ‘a Blatant Abuse of Power’ by Trump
This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. 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. https://t.co/PdlZkmW0mQ
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 16, 2020
Oregon Governor Kay Brown, a Democrat, has criticized Trump, writing on July 16: “This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. 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.”
People have posted pictures on Twitter of cars and license plates. “Here is the vehicle in question. Is it really legally to use civilian marked vehicles for police/military action? Can someone check for me? That seems extremely f***** up,” wrote one concerned Twitter user.
— Malcolm Nance (@MalcolmNance) July 17, 2020
Mayor Ted Wheeler, also a Democrat, wrote on Twitter, “A number of people have asked if I know DHS leadership is in town, and if I’m going to meet with them. We’re aware that they’re here. We wish they weren’t. We haven’t been invited to meet with them, and if we were, we would decline.” DHS stands for the Department of Homeland Security.
Stop what you're doing. This is Portland tonight. These are MEDICS. We need answers, NOW.
What the FUCK is going on in Portland? pic.twitter.com/jO80Ymp2Sm
— 🦋🌸ᗰᗴᒪᎥᔕᔕᗩ🌸🦋 (@MeliMels99) July 17, 2020
Wheeler shared a tweet from a Time Magazine correspondent that said, “White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany just called Lori Lightfoot ‘the derelict mayor of Chicago’ and said she should request federal help to secure the city.”
Wheeler wrote, “This is clearly a coordinated strategy from the White House. It is irresponsible and it is escalating an already tense situation. Remove your heightened troop presence now.”
Mike Reese, the Multnomah County Sheriff, wrote in a statement on Twitter,
As part of a statewide law enforcement delegation to discuss recent responses to demonstrations in Portland, I was invited to meet with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf. I was under the impression this was going to be a thoughtful, honest and open discussion, but following statements made by Sec. Wolf, it became clear law enforcement in the City of Portland was becoming highly politicized, and for that reason, I declined to meet. Protests are among the most difficult events to manage in policing today. We have a responsibility to safeguard the right of people to assemble and engage in free speech, while balancing other rights guaranteed in our Constitution, including maintaining public order by preventing rioting, arson and other illegal activity. As public safety professionals, we have to be measured and proportional in our response. We have to communicate our intentions and be fair and consistent, regardless of an event’s message or people’s actions. As Sheriff, I value the positive the relationship we have with our local law enforcement partners, to include Federal Protective Services, U.S. Marshals Office and the FBI. However, the actions by out-of-state federal agents last weekend failed to display good decision-making and sound tactical judgment. The use of force did not appear proportional to the actions of the demonstrators. I look forward to a thorough investigation into the matter by the U.S. D.O.J. Inspector General. These actions caused a significant setback in our local efforts to end the nightly violence around the Justice Center and in Portland.
Trump Says He Sent Federal Agents to Portland Because ‘the Locals Couldn’t Handle It’
Federal Officers Shoot Portland Protester In Head With 'Less Lethal' Munitions #DonavanLaBella, 26, was shot in the head by what friends and witnesses said was an impact munition.
— Benjamin Young Savage (ᐱᓐᒋᐱᓐ) (@benjancewicz) July 12, 2020
On July 10, President Donald Trump confirmed he sent federal agents to Portland, saying he did so because the city was “out of control,” according to a White House transcript. Trump added, “The locals couldn’t handle it, and you people are handling it very nicely — so nicely that the press doesn’t want to write about it.”
People accused “secret police” of arresting people in Portland.
An Oregon man, Donavan LaBella, was shot in the head with a less lethal impact weapon during a protest outside of the Portland courthouse on July 12, The Oregonian reported.
“I offered @DHSgov support to help locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland, and their only response was: please pack up and go home. That’s just not going to happen on my watch.” pic.twitter.com/BW8UdbNZ9c
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 17, 2020
Wolf, the acting secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, arrived in Portland on July 16. On Twitter, Wolf wrote, “I offered @DHSgov support to help locally address the situation that’s going on in Portland, and their only response was: please pack up and go home. That’s just not going to happen on my watch.”
“We need to make sure that we’re supporting our law enforcement officers here and making sure that they’re going to continue to protect the federal courthouse here,” Wolf said on Fox News. “That’s what DHS does. That’s our mission. We’re not going to abdicate our mission, our responsibilities, however whatever the local leadership here is telling us. We’re going to do our job. We’re going to do it professionally. But we’re not going to have these violent anarchists who show up at the same time every night for a series of hours and having that federal destruction of property. I was able to tour the courthouse here.”
He added: “I saw the graffiti, I saw the broken windows, the broken doors. There’s a facility right across from the courthouse that has 47 coats of paint on it. They have to paint the facility every night after it gets graffiti. It’s time that we take a stand. It’s time that the local leaders here publicly condemn what the violent anarchists are doing and only then I think will local police and federal police get this out of control.”
— Lisa Balick (@lisabKOIN) July 16, 2020
Wolf also shared a graphic that read, “Portland under siege,” and wrote, “A snapshot of the violence we are seeing nightly in Portland for 47 days now:
-violent anarchists have repeatedly shot explosive fireworks into a courthouse
-violent anarchists have repeatedly broken windows and doors while attempting to take over courthouses.
-violent anarchists have repeatedly thrown paint-filled balloons, rocks, and metal pipes at law enforcement officers -violent anarchists have repeatedly torn down protective fencing around courthouses -a violent anarchist assaulted federal law enforcement with a hammer.”
A snapshot of the violence we are seeing nightly in Portland for 47 days now:
-violent anarchists have repeatedly shot explosive fireworks into a courthouse
-violent anarchists have repeatedly broken windows and doors while attempting to take over courthouses pic.twitter.com/uGxkablXuP
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 16, 2020
In a lengthy news release, Wolf wrote, “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. Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.
He released a list of destruction revolving around Portland unrest, which you can see here.
Wolf told Trump at a July event that federal authorities have arrested and charged about a dozen people. Trump responded, “And I know you have it in very good control, but it’s a — it’s a pretty wild group, but you have it in very good control. … So (we) appreciate it. Local law enforcement has been told not to do too much. It’s not the way it’s supposed to be, but that’s okay. Good job. You’ve really done a great job.”
A Local Radio Station claims Federal Officers Have Been Driving Around Downtown in Unmarked Vehicles to Detain People
BREAKING: Chad Wolf just arrived in Portland.
Here’s my message: #GoHomeChad and take your unlawful DHS agents with you.
The Trump admin has no place occupying and inciting violence in our community. https://t.co/BdmKbnc0L7
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) July 16, 2020
KOPB-FM is a radio station licensed to Portland, Oregon. The station reported that, according to people at the scene, word spread that “people in camouflage were driving around the area in unmarked minivans grabbing people off the street.”
The station reported that “Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14…The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets.” According to KOPB, at least 13 people have been charged by federal officials. The radio station said that “Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC” were sent to protect federal property in Portland. According to the radio station, though, not all those arrested were near federal property and it’s not clear “that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity. ”
Conner O’Shea told the radio station that an unmarked vehicle pulled up to them. “I see guys in camo,” O’Shea said to the station. “Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh shit. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”
This isn’t sitting well with some top Democrats in the state.
Democratic U.S. Senator Ron Wyden tweeted, “The consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally dispatching (federal) law enforcement into U.S. cities played out in Portland (with a) peaceful protester shot in the head. Trump (and) Homeland Security must now answer why (federal) officers are acting like an occupying army.”