Oregon attorney general sues federal agencies after protest arrests

Federal agencies unlawfully detained and arrested demonstrators without justification, according to the Oregon AG.

Federal officers use tear gas and other crowd dispersal munitions on protesters outside the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 17, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Federal law enforcement agencies attempt to intervene as protests continue in Portland. (Photo by Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, has sued the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies for violating the constitution after they claim the department unlawfully detained and arrested demonstrators without justification.

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Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service were all mentioned in the lawsuit.

Rosenblum is requesting a restraining order to prevent agents from making additional arrests.

The lawsuit states that federal officers “have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers’ unmarked vehicles, removing them from public without either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest, since at least Tuesday, July 14,” according to NBC News.

Protests began after the death of George Floyd, and while most of the recent protesting has been peaceful, acting director of Homeland Security Chad Wolf called the demonstrators “violent anarchists” on Thursday.

“The identity of the officers is not known, nor is their agency affiliation,” the lawsuit reads. “…the officers in question wear military fatigues with patches simply reading ‘POLICE,’ with no other identifying information.”

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The lawsuit also alleges the arrests have frightened those seeking to their use their First Amendment rights without concerns of “being picked up and shoved into unmarked vans — possibly by federal officers, possibly by individuals opposed to the protests.”

In addition to violating their First Amendment rights, the suit states that federal authorities violated Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights by seizing people without a warrant and denying them due process of law.

Rosenblum is not alone in her lawsuit. Other Oregon officials, including the mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, announced the same day the deployment of the federal officers was unlawful and demand an investigation.

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