Federal law enforcement agents using unmarked, rented vans are grabbing and “detaining” random protestors from the streets of Portland, Oregon, in an unprecedented and legally-questionably move. One demonstrator described his experience in great detail. Later, the Dept. of Homeland Security denied arresting or even detaining the man.
“Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14,” Oregon Public Broadcasting‘s Jonathan Levinson and Conrad Wilson report. “Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.”
“Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC, have been sent to Portland to protect federal property during the recent protests against racism and police brutality,” Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reports.
Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC unit is a group of elite tactical agents that “acts essentially as the SWAT team of the Border Patrol,” as The New York Times reported back in February. President Donald Trump, the week after his impeachment trial in the Senate failed, sent BORTAC units to at least eight major U.S. sanctuary cities to round up and arrest undocumented immigrants.
Mark Pettibone and Conner O’Shea described to OPB their experience with federal agents on the streets of Portland.
“Feds are driving around, grabbing people off the streets,” O’Shea says in a video he shot which was provided to OPB. “I didn’t do anything fucking wrong. I’m recording this. I had to let somebody know that this is what happens.”
“I am basically tossed into the van,” Pettibone told OPB. “And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.”
Blinded by his hat, in an unmarked minivan full of armed people dressed in camouflage and body armor who hadn’t identified themselves, Pettibone said he was driven around downtown before being unloaded inside a building. He wouldn’t learn until after his release that he had been inside the federal courthouse.
Federal law enforcement denied to OPB Pettibone was arrested or detained.
“All United States Marshals Service arrestees have public records of arrest documenting their charges. Our agency did not arrest or detain Mark James Pettibone.”
The Dept. of Homeland Security refused to respond to any of OPB’s questions on Pettibone’s arrest.
“It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” attorney Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, told OPB.
“You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests,” he said. “It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.”
Read Oregon Public Broadcasting’s entire report here.
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Armed Guards at Florida Polling Site Say They Were Sent by the Trump Campaign
Two armed men set up a tent outside of an early voting location in St. Petersberg, Florida, saying that they were with the Trump campaign.
“The Sheriff [Bob Gualtieri] told me the persons that were dressed in these security uniforms had indicated to sheriff’s deputies that they belonged to a licensed security company and they indicated, and this has not been confirmed yet, that they were hired by the Trump campaign,” said Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus.
“The sheriff and I take this very seriously,” Marcus said. “Voter intimidation, deterring voters from voting, impeding a voter’s ability to cast a ballot in this election is unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any way shape, or form. So we anticipated many things going into this election. Not only cybersecurity, but physical security, and we had a plan in place and executed that plan.”
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that he would do whatever it takes to protect the authenticity of the election.
“I just don’t want to get too deep into the specifics because we’re trying to balance it,” Gualtieri said. “But I’ll say it’s a combination of uniformed personnel who will be in the area, and also we’re gonna use some undercover personnel just to monitor the situation.”
The guards said they were hired by Trump and would be out at the polling place again tomorrow. It’s illegal to bring a gun to a polling place in Florida.
See the full report below:
Image via Shutterstock
Trump Publicly Demands Bill Barr Appoint Special Counsel to Investigate Joe Biden in Off-the-Rails Fox News Interview
In a wide-ranging and off-the-rails Fox News interview President Donald Trump is demanding Attorney General Bill Barr appoint a special counsel to investigate his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, over Russian disinformation spread by his personal attorney and a conservative media outlet owned by his friend.
Trump told “Fox & Friends” Barr has “got to act” against the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden, insisting the Attorney General give credence to the disinformation before Election Day.
“We’ve go to get the Attorney General to act, and he’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election,” Trump demanded, before declaring, “we’re going to win the election.”
Fox News mentioned the letter sent to Barr by just 11 of the 198 House Republicans calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens.
Overnight Politico reported: “More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden’s son ‘has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.'”
On Fox & Friends, Trump says Bill Barr’s “gotta act” on the NY Post’s Hunter Biden stories, “and this has to be known about before the election.” pic.twitter.com/fjo4FEbVd6
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) October 20, 2020
Image: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead via Flickr
Jeff Sessions Was a ‘Driving Force’ Behind Child Separations – Rod Rosenstein Said They Should Include Infants: NYT
As Attorney General under President Donald Trump in 2018, Jeff Sessions ordered the separation of migrant children from their parents and even other siblings. Rod Rosenstein, who would go on to gain a high profile under the Mueller Russia probe, was a complicit partner in that project.
“We need to take away children,” Attorney General Sessions told five federal prosecutors who were “deeply concerned” about the child separations, The New York Times reports.
“One added in shorthand: ‘If care about kids, don’t bring them in. Won’t give amnesty to people with kids.'”
Rod Rosenstein, the the deputy attorney general at the time, “went even further in a second call about a week later, telling the five prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. He said that government lawyers should not have refused to prosecute two cases simply because the children were barely more than infants.”
According to The Times, Sessions and Rosenstein “were ‘a driving force’ behind the policy that spurred the separation of thousands of families, many of them fleeing violence in Central America and seeking asylum in the United States, before Mr. Trump abandoned it amid global outrage, according to a draft report of the results of the investigation by Michael E. Horowitz, the department’s inspector general.”
That was behind the scenes. Sessions, who recently lost a primary bid to retake his old Alabama Senate seat, was only too happy to allow Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen to take the brunt of the international outrage.
The Times reporting is based on interviews with federal government officials and a review of an a 86-page draft Inspector General’s report.
“Mr. Rosenstein told the inspector general that Mr. Sessions ‘understood what the consequences were.'”
“The A.G.’s goal,” Rosenstein said, “was to create a more effective deterrent so that everybody would believe that they had a risk of being prosecuted.”
Read the entire Times report here.
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