Trump’s gestapo comes to portland

Hard to believe but the fears I raised in my last column have now been realized and the situation is far worse.

The headlines exploded around the world on the morning of July 15th, summed up best by this Oregon PBS report, “Federal Law Enforcement Use Unmarked Vehicles to Grab Protestors Off Portland Streets.”

It is positively frightening. And it can happen to you. It can happen to me. It can happen to any one of us.

Fearless leader Donald Trump made his plans clear in an interview with the conservative web site Townhall. Exclusive POTUS interview: President Trump threatens federal action in Democrat-run cities. Trump has promised a big announcement on the subject next week, and Portland is clearly a warm up and “beta test.”

Here is what is happening in that Oregon city:

  • Washington Post – ‘It was like being preyed upon’: Portland protesters say federal officers in unmarked vans are detaining them.
  • USA Today – Federal officers are pulling Portland protesters into unmarked vehicles, reports say.
  • syracuse.com – Portland protests: Federal officers use gas, munitions amid growing attention from Trump administration.
  • yahoo! News – Oregon governor denounces ‘blatant abuse of power’ by federal police sweeping protesters off Portland streets.
  • The Nation – Trump Unleashes His Secret Police in Portland.
  • Esquire – The Authoritarian Operation in Portland Is Only a Dress Rehearsal.
  • The Oregonian – Federal officers respond to Portland protests with gas, munitions Thursday amid growing attention from Trump administration.

The Trump henchman on the ground in Portland is acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. His justification for the massive federal invasion of the city cites a few acts of vandalism against the federal courthouse and numerous acts of graffiti artists against federal buildings.

The Governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, has criticized Wolf’s statement and the overall federal response to the Portland protests:

“This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety. The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.

I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets. His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way. This, coming from the same President who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington, DC to engineer a photo opportunity.”

Understand something here. The deployment of federal police forces against Americans over of the objections of the governor of a state is virtually unheard of and arguably illegal.

Trump appears to be justifying his police action by a series of laws beginning with something called the “Insurrection Act of 1807 (U.S.C. §§ 251-255),” signed by President Thomas Jefferson. It appears the only time this law has been used to enable federal police action over the objections of the state was to desegregate public schools. At least those actions had the blessing of the Supreme Court.

Trump’s police action does not have the blessing of any court. And the courts in Oregon, both federal and state, are open and doing business. In fact, not a single governor has asked for federal police assistance during the recent protests. Military officials have gone public with their belief that use of active duty American soldiers would be improper during the current protests following the killing of George Floyd. But that says nothing about the use of the numerous armed police forces the executive branch commands.

Section (§251) of the law says:

“[T]he President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into Federal service such of the militia.” (Emphasis added).

But the next section (§252) says:

Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages, or rebellion against the authority of the United States, make it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, he may call into Federal service such of the militia of any State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to enforce those laws or to suppress the rebellion.” (emphasis added)

If you think this gets confusing you are not alone. These issues have been confusing us since the day they were first raised. See this Congressional Research Report and this one from the State Defense Force Journal.

I’d like to ask Trump what makes “it impracticable to enforce the laws of the United States in any State by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings” these days in the great state of Oregon? Perhaps its just that Trump doesn’t want to let Oregon work things out by itself. He wants to score political points with his militant base before the election.

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