After months of protests and riots in Portland following the death of George Floyd, President Trump sent federal officers into the city in what he described as an attempt to quell violence and restore order. The move, which comes after Trump signed an executive order allowing troops to be deployed to protect national statues and federal property, has caused intense scrutiny. Federal officers were said to be arresting protestors and pulling them into unmarked rental vans. Portland police joined the officers’ efforts to clear the streets. The Portland protests, which remained largely peaceful in earlier weeks, have grown increasingly tense and violent, with clashes between protestors and police in recent days.
Trump has defended his actions and criticized the response of local officials: “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of anarchists and agitators.”
“Violent anarchists have organized events in Portland over the last several weeks with willful intent to damage and destroy federal property, as well as injure federal officers and agents. These criminal actions will not be tolerated.”US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statement
CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan stated that they will continue to arrest those defacing federal property and inciting violence and said that those being arrested were reported as having done such. He said that officers are unnamed because of the risk that it would put them and their families in, due to possible retaliation from “violent criminals,” but that they do have clearly marked, unique identifiers.
President Trump is committed to standing up to the radical mobs that want to tear down our communities. “Some of the unrest we saw… it’s just not acceptable.”— Trump War Room – Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) July 19, 2020
This is about keeping our communities safe! pic.twitter.com/TV1CpgUfZV
The Left believes Trump’s move was an effort to “look strong” and distract from what they call his pandemic failures. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said the president’s actions are “sharply escalating the situation” and have increased violence and vandalism rather than helped. Both he and Democratic governor Kate Brown have requested that the federal officers leave. House Democrats have said they will demand an investigation into what they deem to be unconstitutional actions that deny “probable cause” and “due process.”
“The Attorney General of the United States does not have unfettered authority to direct thousands of federal law enforcement personnel to arrest and detain American citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.”Statement from Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY)
Last night I was teargassed by a federal occupying force I SAW throw canisters of poison, without warning, into a nonviolent crowd, including elders, the vulnerable. We can’t wait for Nov to drive secret police from Pdx! Democracy is slipping away in front of our tear-gassed eyes pic.twitter.com/G4H3pPALpN— Sharon Meieran (@SMeieran) July 19, 2020