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Oregon Attorney General Sues DHS to Stop Trump Admin’s Alleged Detention of Protesters

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit Friday evening against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and various affiliated agencies after federal agents began detaining Black Lives Matter protesters in unmarked vehicles earlier this week.

The lawsuit alleges that agents under the control of Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf “have engaged in unlawful law enforcement in violation of the civil rights of Oregonians by seizing and detaining them without probable cause.” Rosenblum also announced she was launching a criminal investigation of Wolf and his subordinates.

READ the lawsuit documents below.

The practice appears to be localized to the City of Portland for now and had been documented on social media for days before Oregon Public Broadcasting broke a story on Thursday afternoon confirming that men in camouflage have been rushing up to people on the street, failing to identify themselves or their agency or department, hastily detaining protesters or assumed protesters without a word, and then driving off with the detainees in captivity.

“I share the concerns of our state and local leaders–and our Oregon U.S. Senators and certain Congressional representatives–that 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,” Rosenblum said in a statement announcing the litigation. “These tactics must stop. 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.”

The attorney general said she will immediately follow the lawsuit with a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) “regarding the forcible detainment” of Oregon resident Mark Pettibone, a protester who said he was plucked off the street before being held at the federal courthouse in Portland and eventually released.

“I am basically tossed into the van,” Pettibone told Oregon Public Broadcasting. “And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.”

Rosenblum said the lawsuit was specifically being filed in response to “federal authorities overstepping their powers and injuring or threatening peaceful protesters” this past week.

Per the state attorney general’s press release:

The first of these took place on July 12, 2020, when a peaceful protester was standing near the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse. The protester was hit in the head with an “impact weapon” and suffered severe injuries. The second occurred July 16, 2020, also in downtown Portland, when an unmarked minivan with undercover federal agents wearing generic green military fatigues forcibly detained Pettibone, who was walking on a sidewalk.

Rosenblum said the TRO, if granted, would immediately force Wolf’s federal agents “from unlawfully detaining Oregonians.”

“We are today asking the federal court to stop the federal police from secretly stopping and forcibly grabbing Oregonians off our streets, and we are announcing a state criminal investigation, with the Multnomah County District Attorney, into the incident resulting in serious injuries to a peaceful protester–apparently committed by a federal police officer in downtown Portland last week,” Rosenblum’s statement continued.

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

The U.S. Marshals Service denied being involved with the arrests, Law&Crime previously reported.  Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf defended his officers in a series of tweets Friday.

“Let’s get this right. ‘Protestors’ imply they were peacefully exercising their 1st amendment rights,” Wolf tweeted. “Instead, DHS officers were assaulted with lasers and frozen water bottles from violent criminals attempting to tear down federal property. 2 officers were injured. Facts matter.”

Earlier, Wolf praised the actions of his own officers.

Oregon v. Feds by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via KENT NISHIMURA/AFP via Getty Images]

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