Portland protesters slam Trump, federal agents: ‘This is not a dictatorship’

As protests continue in Portland, demonstrators push back against President Donald Trump's deployment of federal agents

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21: A protester leads chants in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Protesters continue to take the streets of Portland despite President Donald Trump sending unidentified federal agents to clear the area.

READ MORE: Constitutional crisis looms over federal agents in Portland

USA TODAY reports demonstrators now chant directly at the agents to leave their city. Najee Gow, a 22-year-old participant, vocalized these sentiments through a megaphone in front of the federal courthouse.

Portland protest thegrio.com
An unidentified Rose City Antifa member flicks off to the police during a demonstration between the left and right at Pioneer Courthouse Square on June 29, 2019 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Moriah Ratner/Getty Images)

“Feds go home! Feds go home! Get out of our city! This is not a dictatorship! This is a democracy!” he shouted according to USA TODAY.  

“People are legit afraid for their rights,” Gow says to the news outlet.

He continues, “They are coming for our rights. They are exercising martial law.”

theGrio previously reported officers dressed in camouflage gear are tracking down protesters in unmarked vehicles and detaining them in the Oregon city. These actions are confirmed by Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli stating they were moving people to a “safe location for questioning.”

READ MORE: Portland businesses report $23 million in damages amid protests, according to survey

Still, federal presence has not caused the anti-racism protests to die down. The city, known for its typically progressive population, may have been the first place according to USA TODAY.

“My sense is they chose Portland because if they had rolled this out in, say, Minneapolis, it would mean to come in direct confrontation with many more Black activists,” says Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon, to USA TODAY.

He continues, “With Portland, it’s a whiter city and they can demonize Antifa or the idea of anarchist looters and kind of take race out of it in a direct way, and make it seem more sympathetic.’’

USA TODAY reports 114 federal officers have been sent to Portland including representatives from the Federal Protective Service, Immigration Customs Enforcement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Marshals Service. According to protesters their presence has created violence.

Portland feds thegrio.com
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)

Conner O’Shea, a 30-year-old who was chased down by the agents following a protest, tells USA TODAY he’s seen an increase in protesters since federal involvement.

“The crowd the last few days, it’s just insane,” he says to the news outlet.

He adds, “It’s been really intense, and there’s lots of righteous indignation … but I think it’s bringing hope to all the people who never stopped showing up. It’s like, ‘Oh my God, fresh troops!’ I do feel like all this attention could lead to more changes that we’re pushing for, the reforms we want with local police.” 

Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon echoes the sentiments of protesters on social media.

“This is a democracy, not a dictatorship,” she tweeted.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler also stood against the police presence. USA TODAY reports he believes Trump is “abusing his authority,” in an official statement.

A “wall of moms” joined the protests forming a barricade between demonstrators and the federal agents. The mothers were met with tear gas. “The Feds coming in was the tipping point,” says, Alice Orleman to USA TODAY. Orleman is one of the moms who stood in solidarity.

She continues, “I felt like I had to be here.”

President Trump, however, is satisfied and announced plans to send the agents to other cities. In a White House briefing, the commander-in-chief says, “We’ll work every single day to restore public safety, protect our nation’s children, and bring violent perpetrators to justice.”

Chicago, one of the cities on Trump’s list, is already working to prevent the federal presence. theGrio reported Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Department have already spoken out.

“If federal agents are deployed, it is critical that they coordinate with the Chicago Police Department and work alongside us to fight violent crime in Chicago,” says CPD in a statement.

Mayor Lightfoot appeared on The ReidOut hosted by Joy Reid on MSNBC to denounce Trump’s decision.

“We’re not going to have tyranny in the city of Chicago,” she announced.  

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

Loading the player...

Share