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Federal Officers Should Stay Out of Portland Unless Portlanders Truly Feel Threatened

Armand Yazdani

Posted on July 31, 2020 22:11

1 user

The escalation of violence in Portland protests has proven worrisome, but it's no justification for deploying federal officers into the city.

When federal agents arrived in Portland, Oregon for Operation Diligent Valor and began to arrest protesters, the White House was sending a clear message: If state governments were unable to curtail the violence from recent protests, federal agents would swiftly intervene with the Department of Homeland Security. However, although some violence had shaken Portland, the city had remained relatively peaceful. The advent of federal agents has only escalated violence, which is why federal agents should never return to Portland unless Portlanders truly feel threatened by the protests. 

Whether or not Portland protests were violent, tactics employed by some of the federal agents also resorted to force and unlawful arrests. When these faceless, nameless heavily-armed figures entered the city, some of them allegedly pepper sprayed protesters and grabbed individuals and brought them into unmarked vehicles. The agents' tactics have not only affected rioters, but also peaceful protesters. When Portland mayor Ted Wheeler joined the protests, officers tear-gassed him as well. Use of tear gas by the DHS has become excessive to the extent that the Wall of Moms and Don't Shoot Portland have lodged lawsuits against the federal organization. According to the lawsuit, federal officers have persistently tear-gassed members of the mother-led group. A Beaverton lawyer claimed one federal officer arrested her for striking him, although she denies this. The attorney alleged the agent failed to inform her of her rights. 

The DHS and defenders of the operation claim Portland protests were violent and rife with anarchists and rioters, but this doesn't warrant federal intervention. While the DHS accurately states that Downtown Portland has experienced more than 50 days of rioting, tensions have only escalated as agents arrived. One video shows federal officers in military fatigues with "police" tags arresting a protester without identifying themselves. In spite of how chaotic protests in Portland may be, the use of tear gas, unmarked vans and federal agents is completely unnecessary. 

Even though Oregon governor Kate Brown agreed with the White House to withdraw most of the federal agents, they've decided to ramp up their aggression. The DHS's paramilitaries fired teargas and stun grenades early on this Thursday. According to Brown's tweets, Oregon State Police officers will be stationed downtown in lieu of the federal agents. However, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the DHS would keep its "current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland" until protesters stop attacking federal properties. But Oregon cannot guarantee that no one will attack federal properties. 

Although the withdrawal of federal officers from Portland is a positive step to mellowing out the violence, the agents should never return unless a major crisis ensues. Damage of federal property is an abhorrent offense, but it shouldn't warrant the intervention of the federal government. When the DHS's officers arrived, many of them tear-gassed peaceful protesters, and in some cases arrived in unmarked vans and arrested protesters. The tension in the protests has heightened, but not to the extent that the federal government should intervene.

Armand Yazdani

Posted on July 31, 2020 22:11

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