Protests in America’s Portland city marked its 67th consecutive day against the rising racism, police brutality, and the violent involvement of US federal troops deployed by President Donald Trump.
A wave of nationwide #BlackLivesMatter protests sparked in the wake of the inhumane killing of George Floyd, an African American man killed in police custody by the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25th, 2020. Peaceful protests ended in an extreme clashes between demonstrators and the police in multiple states in the USA as well as in other parts of the world, calling for police reformation and racial equality.
The situation in Portland, Oregon state’s biggest city, remained grim from the beginning as the city quelled under the local police’s pressure. A lawsuit was filed against the Portland Police Bureau on their usage of tear gas to disperse the crowd of demonstrators in the early days of protest. Acting on the complaint, the attorney banned the deploying of tear gas temporarily for 14-days “unless there is a serious and immediate threat to life safety.”
Then on June 26, the Trump administration sent federal agents to the Democratic-controlled city of Portland to protect and prevent the destruction of federal infrastructures. The personnel includes the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) and the US Marshals Service among others. The US Marshals Service is usually “deployed in high-risk and sensitive law enforcement situations, national emergencies, civil disorder, and natural disasters”, and are not trained to deal with crowd control.
The federal intervention made use of tear gas canisters, pepper spray, rubber bullets (less lethal ammunition), and sonic weapons against demonstrators. The violence instigated when protestors defied the troops and hurled glass bottles, firecrackers, shooting lasers at federal officers protecting government property.
Videos of unidentified law officers abducting protestors into unmarked cars without justification received huge criticism, as advocates called it out as “unconstitutional”. “Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping – what is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the U.S”, said the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Oregon.
As the violence continued, the mayors of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Washington appealed to the U.S. House and Senate, stating “This administration’s egregious use of federal force on cities over the objections of local authorities should never happen.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the deployment of hundreds of federal troops has sharply escalated the violence, adding “their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.” President Trump reacted to the situation by tweeting, “Homeland Security is not leaving Portland until local police complete cleanup of Anarchists and Agitators!”
Peaceful solidarity support to the increasing repression of Portland citizens was extended by a group of moms – Wall of Moms, who barricaded hundreds of protestors from the federal law enforcer, as well as US veterans. The organizer of “Wall of Moms” said: “We are about protecting peaceful citizens’ right to protest.”
After a month of federal intervention, the officers relinquished the city and peaceful protests solely focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement resumed.
Feature Image Via The Cut.