Skip to content

Illustration by Security Management

Federal Tactics Questioned in Portland; Trump Vows Expansion to Other Cities

Over the weekend, Portland, Oregon, became the epicenter of Black Lives Matter vs. Law and Order. Officers from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agencies were deployed earlier in July to protect property in the city, which has seen sustained protests since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked nationwide protests in late May.

Some tactics of the DHS officers have been criticized. Video captured men dressed in camouflage detaining a protestor in an unmarked van and driving off. Video shows a navy veteran, who was not acting in a threatening way, being beaten with batons and pepper-sprayed in the face. First the ACLU and then the state of Oregon have brought lawsuits against the federal government to force the federal officers to cease activities. In a nod to the surreal, a group of women dubbed the “wall of moms” linked arms and sought to protect protestors by standing between them and federal officers.

An analysis article on CNN this morning noted continued protests Monday night and described the situation as “classic entrenchment with no end in sight. Neither side is backing down as protestors and federal agents continue to periodically clash in downtown Portland.”

In tweets, the president has described the situation as out of control and dangerous.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has been highly critical of the effort. “What’s happening here is we have dozens, if not hundreds, of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they’re doing is, they are sharply escalating the situation,” he said in interviews. “Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism. And it’s not helping the situation at all. They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave.”

President Trump vowed on Monday to send federal officers to other cities, citing New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, Oakland, and other cities where “liberal Democrats” have lost control as targets.

According to reports, Chicago is first on the list. A wave of violence has been sweeping through Chicago in recent weeks. Over the weekend, 63 people were shot and 12 killed in different incidents. “How about Chicago? Would you say they need help after this weekend?” Trump told reporters at the White House. “You know the numbers that you hear, the numbers? Many, many shot. Many, many killed.”

The news is not welcome to Chicago’s leaders, however. “I have great concerns about that in particular, given the track record in the city of Portland,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said. “I have talked to the mayor of Portland (and) we don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the street and holding them, I think, unlawfully.”