Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Federal officers prepare to disperse the crowd of protestors outside the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 17, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

'These Tactics Must Stop': Oregon DOJ Launches Criminal Probe Into Violence by Trump-Deployed Feds

"Every American should be repulsed when they see this happening. If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere."

Jake Johnson

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Friday announced a criminal probe into violence committed against peaceful protesters by unidentified federal officials who President Donald Trump deployed to Portland earlier this month to quash Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Rosenblum also said her office is suing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Protection Service, and their agents for violating "the civil rights of Oregonians by seizing and detaining them without probable cause" after video footage showed federal officials in combat fatigues snatching protesters off the streets and throwing them into unmarked vehicles.

"These tactics must stop," Rosenblum said in a statement. "They not only make it impossible for people to assert their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully. They also create a more volatile situation on our streets. We are today asking the federal court to stop the federal police from secretly stopping and forcibly grabbing Oregonians off our streets."

"The federal administration has chosen Portland to use their scare tactics to stop our residents from protesting police brutality and from supporting the Black Lives Matter movement," Rosenblum continued. "Every American should be repulsed when they see this happening. If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere."

The criminal investigation led by the Oregon Department of Justice and Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill will center on a gruesome July 11 incident in which a peaceful demonstrator was shot in the head by an impact munition. The munition, reportedly fired by a federal officer, fractured the 26-year-old protester's skull.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who demanded an investigation into the incident earlier this week, applauded Rosenblum's legal actions as "necessary to shed light on the truth and hold Trump accountable for his authoritarian tactics on American soil."

Late Friday, as the chilling conduct of federal law enforcement officers drew national outrage, Wyden joined fellow Oregon Democrats Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici in demanding that Attorney General William Barr and Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf immediately withdraw all federal forces from Portland.

"These actions are out of control," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Barr and Wolf. "They are more reflective of tactics of a government led by a dictator, not from the government of our constitutional democratic republic."

In a separate letter on Friday, the Oregon lawmakers demanded Inspector General investigations into the "unrequested presence and violent actions" of federal officers in Portland.

"DHS and DOJ are engaged in acts that are horrific and outrageous in our constitutional democratic republic," Merkley said in a statement. "First, they are deploying paramilitary forces with no identification indicating who they are or who they work for. Second, these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification. Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans."

"Given the egregious nature of the violations against Oregonians," said Merkley, "we are demanding full investigations by the Inspectors General of these departments."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Appeals Court Orders Release of Secret Memo Barr 'Used to Undercut the Mueller Report'

While the DOJ has not announced whether it will appeal, a spokesperson for the watchdog behind the case said that "the American people deserve to know what it says. Now they will."

Jessica Corbett ·


Trans Girls in Utah Can Play School Sports After Judge Blocks Discriminatory Law

"Our daughter just wants the same chance as other kids to make friends and play on the team she loves," said one parent plaintiff. "Today's ruling gives her the opportunity to do that."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Deeply Dangerous Nonsense': Treasury Dept. Debunks GOP Lies About 87,000 Armed IRS Agents

The intensity with which Republicans "are coming at this is really a testament to how important these resources are going to be—because there are many wealthy tax evaders that stand to lose a lot," said one official.

Kenny Stancil ·


Michigan Judge Blocks Enforcement of 'Dangerous and Chilling' 1931 Abortion Ban

The decision is a "welcome" development "but our work continues," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, vowing to use "every tool in my toolbox to fight like hell for women and healthcare providers."

Jessica Corbett ·


Tlaib Says Biden Must 'Hold Israel Accountable' for Raid on Palestinian Rights Groups

"The silence by our country is enabling more death and violence," said the U.S. congresswoman.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo