Deeply disturbing reports are coming out of Portland as President Trump makes good on his threat to “do something” about the Black Lives Matter protesters who are still marching for racial justice and defunding of the police.
Perhaps testing the waters to see what he and his cronies can get away with, it appears that unmarked federal agents in unmarked vans have been arresting Portland protesters with no cause and no charge.
“‘I was terrified,’ Pettibone told The Washington Post. ‘It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.’
He was detained and searched. One man asked him if he had any weapons; he did not. They drove him to the federal courthouse and placed him in a holding cell. Two officers eventually returned to read his Miranda rights and ask if he would waive those rights to answer a few questions; he did not.”
Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. The federal officers who snatched him off the street as he was walking home from a peaceful protest did not tell him why he had been detained or provide him any record of an arrest, he told The Post. As far as he knows, he has not been charged with any crimes.
His potentially illegal “arrest” by U.S. Marshals and reports of similar events have set off major alarm bells in Portland, leading Sen. Ron Wyden to publicly accuse Donald Trump of using the Department of Homeland Security as “secret police” to shoot and arrest the people he represents in order to rile up his psychotic base and make it look like he’s taking decisive action against the BLM protesters Trump has smeared as “thugs” and “antifa” terrorists.
A protester was shot in the head by a “less than lethal” round last Saturday — but don’t be fooled. “Less than lethal” ammo can still shatter skulls and permanently blind protesters.
A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police. Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) July 16, 2020
Jann Carson, the interim executive director of the ACLU in Oregon, told the Post that “Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street, we call it kidnapping. Protesters in Portland have been shot in the head, swept away in unmarked cars, and repeatedly tear-gassed by uninvited and unwelcome federal agents. We won’t rest until they are gone.”
While this is the logical conclusion of the President’s appallingly violent rhetoric towards peaceful protesters, it is still terrifying to see how willing our law enforcement agencies are willing to participate in illegal arrests and to adopt Gestapo tactics when it comes to dealing with “leftist” agitators protesting the systemic racism and brutality that defines policing in America.
Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf justified the actions with fascistic declarations of aggression towards “violent extremists” and then presented several walls of graffiti as “evidence” of this supposed violence.
Donald Trump’s entire administration has been a lesson into how easily the slide into fascism will be, and it’s becoming clear that if we don’t send him packing in the November 2020 election, it may very well be the last presidential election we ever have. We cannot allow him to continue violating our Constitutional rights and using unmarked vans full of jack-booted goons to arrest us without charge or trial.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.