Federal law enforcement officers, dressed in camouflage and driving in unmarked vehicles, have been detaining protestors in Portland, Ore., according to local reports and videos shared online. Demonstrations have been ongoing in Portland since the police killing of George Floyd in late May.
Federal agents have detained and forced individuals into unmarked vans in recent days, two demonstrators in Portland told Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) on Thursday. Mark Pettibone, a demonstrator detained on Wednesday, told OPB he was taken to a federal courthouse and later released, but that he was not given any official notice of the arrest.
Officers from federal agencies have been present in Portland since at least July 2, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which has sent units to the city. Law enforcement has also been deployed by the U.S. Marshals Service and other agencies. Per OPB, federal officers in unmarked vehicles have detained protestors since July 14.
Footage posted online by protestors show others being mistreated in the same way. In one video that has circulated widely online, two federal officers walk up to a demonstrator and put them into an unmarked minivan before driving away. They say nothing to indicate why they’re detaining the protestor.
In another email referring to the individual in the video posted online, DHS said that agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection “had information indicating the person in the video was suspected of assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property.”
According to DHS, the agents identified themselves and were wearing insignias for CBP during the incident, but that their names were not displayed due to risks of doxxing.While it is unquestionable that authorities need to get control of what's happening in Portland, unidentified law enforcement officials can't just snatch people from the streets and throw them into unmarked vans to be hauled away for questioning because they "suspect" a person had committed an crime. Apparently at least some of the officers were from the Customs and Border Patrol and from an admittedly cursory examination of their powers does not seem to support their being involved in a law enforcement action in Portland, Oregon.