Videos on social media show federal officers in camouflage shoving protesters to the ground and striking them with batons on the streets of Portland, Oregon.
Oregon’s governor has criticized President Donald Trump for “deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland,” and Portland’s mayor is decrying a “heightened troop presence” by federal officials in that city, calling it a “coordinated strategy from the White House.”
Those statements came after social and local news media reports claimed federal or “secret” police were arresting people on the streets of Portland, with viral videos showing officers in camouflage grabbing people off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.
On July 10, President 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.”
The chaotic night was the latest violence to flare in Portland, which Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf had visited earlier Thursday, saying the city had been “under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob” and criticizing local leaders for failing to stop “lawless anarchists” from destroying property.
On Fox News on Friday, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said his department’s law enforcement force was in Portland, where “we have about a hundred or so federal officers there to make sure that we support that courthouse, defend that courthouse.”
Protesters have hit the streets nightly for the past two months since the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man whose death in Minneapolis triggered global demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism.
Oregon Governor Kay Brown, a Democrat, wrote 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.”
One video that has been viewed more than 8.4 million times 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
Merkley added: “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.”
Another video circulating widely shows what appear to be federal agents in camouflage attacking a group of medics rendering aid to an injured protester.
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
Federal agents in civilian vans. pic.twitter.com/8l7nVfsxSE
— Cozca (@KohzKah) July 15, 2020
“Videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, taking people into their vans with no explanation, and driving away,” The Daily Beast reported.
Residents have tweeted photos 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 (D) 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.
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. He was hit by a munition fired by a federal officer while holding a speaker over his head, according to the newspaper.
cw: headshot w/ impact munition
PORTLAND, 11-Jul: Federal police deliberately shoot Donavan LaBella in the head with an impact munition as he stands still holding a speaker over his head.
He was rushed to the hospital with severe facial and skull fractures. [📸 Drew Hernandez]. pic.twitter.com/P5weqMcUdh
— Antifa is good actually (@chadloder) July 12, 2020