Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles and detaining demonstrators in the Portland area since mid-July so the State of Oregon and several nonprofit groups are taking the Trump administration to court.
The Oregon Department of Justice is suing several federal agencies for civil rights abuses, and state prosecutors will potentially pursue criminal charges against a federal officer who seriously injured a protester.
Donavan LaBella, 26, was shot in the head by what friends and witnesses said was an impact munition, a kind often described as less lethal.
The federal lawsuit names the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the United States Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protective Service, agencies that have had a role in stepped-up force used against protesters since early July.
When asked for comment, the U.S. Marshals Service told OPB it does not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit lists defendants specifically as John Does 1-10 because the “identity of the officers is not known, nor is their agency affiliation,” the lawsuit states.
“Unidentified federal officials snatching individuals off the street and throwing them in unmarked vans because they may have participated in a constitutionally protected protest is an astonishing act of government repression that should send a chill down the spine of every American,” said Nora Benavidez, PEN America’s director of U.S. free expression programs. “Such tactics do nothing for public safety but instead represent a secret-police-level affront to free speech and freedom of assembly.”
“The federal government must explain immediately why these incidents occurred and ensure they do not happen again,” said Benavidez.
Secret Service, National Guard, and Park Police personnel used tear gas and batons on anti-police brutality protesters demonstrating near the White House on June 1 so President Donald Trump could pose with a Bible in front of a church.
Trump’s incompetence and abuses in office are threatening to derail American democracy, as the Republican controlled Senate has refused to hold him accountable.
Armed with a $6 trillion slush fund by an almost unanimous vote in Congress for the CARES Act, Trump is expected to be in a close race for re-election despite the current state of the economy, a public health pandemic and ruptured civil society.
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