Oregon AG sues feds over arrests of Portland protesters
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum will take the feds to court — alleging that law enforcement officers working for several national agencies arrested local demonstrators without probable cause.
Rosenblum announced the lawsuit just before 10 p.m. on Friday, July 17, saying the legal action would seek a restraining order preventing further arrests from being made by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service.
"The current escalation of fear and violence in downtown Portland is being driven by federal law enforcement tactics that are entirely unnecessary and out of character with the Oregon way," the A.G. said in a statement. "These tactics must stop."
Her office and the Multnomah County District Attorney also will launch a new state criminal investigation into the injuries inflicted on Donavan LaBella, a 26-year-old protester who was shot in the head by an impact munition fired by federal police on July 11.
LaBella was holding a boombox and standing across the street from the federal courthouse when he was fired on by officers. The incident shattered bones in his face, requiring major surgery, according to the young man's mother.
The officers have a shot someone in the head with what appears to be an impact munition, there is a lot of blood. #blacklivesmatter #pdx #portlandoregon #oregon #blm #acab #portland #justicecenter pic.twitter.com/8JmR3QA0AN— Garrison Davis (Teargas Proof) (@hungrybowtie) July 12, 2020
Rosenblum said she also is concerned with a spate of mysterious snatch-and-grab arrests involving federal officers in unmarked vans. Federal police have made more than a dozen arrests since they were called into Portland by President Donald Trump — but in one particularly high-profile incident described by OPB, they reportedly detained a protester for several hours for simply walking home from a rally.
The Nation reports that a Customs and Border patrol SWAT team known as the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, as well as the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group, were involved in the mysterious arrests.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams also has vowed to investigate both the arrest of Portlanders pulled into unmarked cars and LaBella's injuries, but that hasn't satisfied a brigade of ranking Oregon politicos, who have called for the feds to either leave Portland or disengage from policing protests.
Rosenblum said the presence of federal police had drawn more demonstrators into the streets and infringed on their First Amendment right to free speech.
"The federal administration has chosen Portland to use their scare tactics to stop our residents from protesting police brutality and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement," she said. "If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere."
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