The New York Times headline is scary: “Federal Agents Unleash Militarized Crackdown on Portland.” They’re “unleashing” a “crackdown”? Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Naturally, the hysterical left is having a cow. While a decent argument could be made that even if Portland authorities aren’t doing their jobs, the feds should keep their noses out of local police matters, this is too much.
One protester, Mark Pettibone, told The Washington Post men in green military fatigues and generic “police” patches jumped out of an unmarked minivan early Wednesday and arrested him as he walked home from what he characterized as a peaceful protest. He told the Post he was scared because he did not know who detained him. Reports of similar incidents have drawn condemnation from civil rights groups.
Some Democratic officials accused the Trump administration of sending unidentifiable agents.
“Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., on Twitter, along with a video of a protester being arrested and placed into an unmarked van. “These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end.”
DHS says that’s nonsense, that their agents were uniformed and identified themselves. The spokesman said they weren’t wearing name badges because of fears for the agents’ personal safety. The same reasoning justifies an unmarked van. In a city where cop cars are being lit up like 4th of July fireworks, it’s a wise move to use an unmarked van.
The situation in Portland was bad — is bad. Federal property has been vandalized and destroyed. And since the local authorities appear powerless to stop the mayhem, someone in the federal government — presumably the president of the United States — decided that order had to be restored.
But is that really his job to do? Portland is not a federal city. It’s a city in the sovereign state of Oregon. The governor, the mayor, or the chief of police could put a stop to the demonstrations all by themselves. They are not powerless. But they have chosen not to.
It’s not for the president to say if it’s a wise choice or a good choice. That’s for the people of Oregon to decide. The local and state authorities have not requested federal assistance. They have, in fact, asked all federal law enforcement personnel to leave. They claim that the presence of federal law enforcement is not helping “to contain or de-escalate the situation, it’s obviously having exactly the opposite impact,” according to Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Well, that may or may not be true. Wheeler doesn’t acknowledge the counter-argument that is equally valid: that doing nothing encourages the violence. Be that as it may, it’s still troubling that any federal law enforcement personnel are assigned to do anything more than protect federal property. These CBP agents appear to be ranging far afield to protect federal structures.
CBP agents were sent to Portland to protect federal property. Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday. Some have been detained by the federal courthouse, which has been the scene of protests. But others were reportedly grabbed blocks away.
On Thursday night, federal officers reportedly deployed tear gas and fired non-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters hours after Wolf’s visit.
Wheeler and local officials are deluding themselves if they think playing nice with anarchists and barbarians will do anything except encourage more violence and destruction. The proof is in 50 nights of lawless behavior, including the destruction of property, which Wheeler and his cohorts might not look at as important. But people’s lives are being ruined because the mayor isn’t doing his job.
But enough people in Portland are apparently satisfied with what Wheeler is doing. There are no clarion calls for his resignation from his fellow politicians. So the question becomes: if the people of Portland are OK with what’s going on, why should the federal government care?