Local police unions appear to be going around the elected officials who oversee their departments to work with federal agents to crack down on protesters in some cities.
Leaders in Chicago and Portland have publicly disavowed federal law enforcement policing demonstrations in their cities, the president of Portland’s police union met with Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf last week to discuss Customs and Border Protection agents, reported The Daily Beast.
That meeting apparently came without the knowledge of the city’s police chief, and the president of Chicago’s police union reached out to President Donald Trump for federal intervention against protesters in that city.
The administration is sending 150 federal agents with Homeland Security Investigations to Chicago, and protesters there have said local police and federal agents are obviously working together.
Trump has threatened to send federal agents into other cities, including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore and Oakland as a show of force against protests that have continued for just about two months following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
Daryl Turner, the president of Portland’s police union, met with Trump’s DHS acting secretary after the Portland Police Association passed a vote of no confidence against the city’s elected officials, and the police chief seemed confused about whether officers had met with Wolf.
Portland police are bound by a judge’s injunction forbidding tear gas and other less-lethal tactics, but federal agents are not — and activists believe local officers are using those unbadged and camouflaged agents as cover.
“They stand right next to each other and shoot us at the same time,” said local activist Greg McElvey. “That’s usually the telltale. They disperse crowds at the same time, we see them talk to each other. Other than throwing people into vans, this is all stuff the Portland Police were already doing.”
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‘Greatly Representative of Our Nation’: Trump Says the RNC Will ‘Probably’ Use White House for His Convention Speech
President Donald Trump on Wednesday confirmed that the RNC is considering holding a portion of its August convention on the White House grounds, an unprecedented break with acceptable norms and ethics.
Calling the White House “greatly representative of our nation,” Trump says he will “probably” accept the GOP nomination from the South Lawn and deliver his acceptance speech there.
“I’ll probably do mine live from the White House,” Trump said on “Fox & Friends,” NBC News reports. He claimed one of the reasons to do it at the White House is to save the taxpayers money.
“It would be the easiest from the standpoint of security,” he said. “It’s a very expensive operation militarily, and law enforcement-wise the Secret Service is fantastic. But, you know, it’s a big deal, and we’re thinking about doing it from the White House because there’s no movement, it’s easy and I think it’s a beautiful setting.”
Trump’s speech is scheduled for Thursday, August 27, just three weeks from tomorrow.
Experts say anyone in the administration participating, aside from Trump and the Vice President, would be in violation of the Hatch Act.
Here’s the president discussing his convention plans:
Defending plans to accept the Republican nomination at the White House, Trump says he likes DC: “I spend a lot of time here and I like it. And I think it’s a great place, and greatly representative of our nation.” pic.twitter.com/C3V4LN9UYr
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) August 5, 2020
Trump May Deliver Convention Speech and Accept GOP Nomination From the South Lawn of the White House
President Donald Trump may make yet another move to obliterate longstanding norms and the separation of politics from matters of state by accepting the GOP nomination for president and delivering his convention speech, all televised across the nation, live, from the vaunted South Lawn of the White House.
“Republican National Convention planners are considering the White House South Lawn,” The Washington Post reports.
It is yet another unprecedented move, one that fits in well with Trump’s usurpation of the power and trappings of the Oval Office for personal and political gain, and his equating of the Office of the Presidency with himself.
“Every White House staff member who participates in this violates the Hatch Act,” law professor and former chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter says.
The Hatch Act “does not apply to ‘rooms in the White House or in the residence of the Vice President, which are part of the residence area or which are not regularly used solely in the discharge of official duties,'” the Post notes.
The New York Times reported Monday the interior of the White House is also being considered by the RNC.
‘Like Stop and Frisk Meets Guantanamo Bay’: Federal Law Enforcement Grabbing and ‘Detaining’ Protestors in Portland
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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