Over the course of the last few days, a strange and worrisome story has been developing in Portland, Oregon, as protesters have found themselves detained by unidentified paramilitary personnel in unmarked vehicles.
These federal agents are allegedly part of the Department of Homeland Security, or perhaps Customs and Border Patrol, but little more is known about their operation. Portland’s local authorities have decried their use, and even gone as far as to sue the federal government over the practice.
On Sunday, Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, said the Trump administration’s tactics were “completely unconstitutional”. The state of Oregon sued the federal government on Friday for violating the protesters’ civil rights.
“People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars, apparently. They are being denied probable cause, and they are denied due process,” Mr Wheeler told CNN on Sunday.
Now Congress is getting involved.
Senior Democratic lawmakers have called for inquiries into the Trump administration’s use of federal law enforcement officers to quell protests in Oregon, saying the administration did not have “unfettered authority” to crack down on peaceful demonstrations.
The request from Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House judiciary committee, and Carolyn Maloney, who chairs the House oversight committee, came after local officials in Oregon accused the Trump administration of using unlawful and “abhorrent” tactics in Portland, the state’s largest city.
“This is a matter of utmost urgency. Citizens are concerned that the administration has deployed a secret police force, not to investigate crimes but to intimidate individuals it views as political adversaries, and that the use of these tactics will proliferate throughout the country,” Mr Nadler and Ms Maloney stated.
There are concerns that, if left unchecked, this overreach by the federal government could spread to other cities around the nation.
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