Federal Officers Deploy Tear Gas During Portland Protest
Black Lives Matter protests have been occurring nightly in Portland, Oregon, since the May 25th murder of George Floyd. While clashes between protesters and police have been an ongoing issue throughout the country, Donald Trump dispatched federal officers to only three cities: Washington, DC, Seattle, and Portland, under the guise of “protecting the monuments“.
As if things weren’t tense enough between Portland law enforcement and the public, the presence of federal officers in Portland raises more questions than solutions. Dressed in full military garb without any identification, the officers have been arresting protestors without explanation and removing them from the streets in unmarked minivans. Local police are essentially helpless. Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis said his department did not request the assistance and did not coordinate efforts with the federal government amid often chaotic clashes that have ranged across several downtown blocks after midnight for weeks.
“I don’t have the authority to order federal officers to do things,” Davis said. “It does complicate things for us.”
Tensions have been high in Portland over the last seven weeks, with unsubstantiated reports of police brutality and property damage. These tensions only increased last night as the federal officers deployed tear gas and made arrests. On July 11, one federal officer shot a protester in the head with a projectile. The protester, named Donavan LaBella, underwent facial reconstructive surgery and remains in serious condition.
The Portland Police Bureau had been plagued by controversy and confusion amidst a high turnover rate even before the protests began. Beleaguered Mayor Ted Wheeler told reporters yesterday that the federal officers are neither wanted nor needed in Portland.