Demonstrations in Portland, Oregon
Protests have been ongoing in the Rose City for weeks (Photo: Mathieu Lewis-Rolland, reproduced with permission)

It has become abun­dant­ly clear that Don­ald Trump’s neo­fas­cist regime rec­og­nizes that it is in grave dan­ger of being swept out of pow­er this autumn by a blue tsuna­mi. In a des­per­ate attempt to avoid that fate, Trump and his min­ions have delib­er­ate­ly tar­get­ed the Pacif­ic North­west­’s major cities (Port­land and Seat­tle) as places where they can use fed­er­al law enforce­ment per­son­nel to insti­gate con­flicts that will be help­ful in ril­ing up their base and spread­ing fear.

Lead­ers in the Pacif­ic North­west are right­ly furi­ous about this, and speak­ing out.

On July 20th, Sen­a­tors Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Ore­gon spoke on the Sen­ate floor against deploy­ing “unwant­ed para­mil­i­tary forces” into Amer­i­can cities.

“What we have seen in the last ten days in Port­land has been hor­rif­ic and uncon­scionable,” said Merkley. “Fed­er­al forces have shot an unarmed pro­test­er in the head with impact muni­tions, and para­mil­i­tary forces in cam­ou­flage have been grab­bing peo­ple off the streets and putting them into unmarked vans.”

“These are the actions of an author­i­tar­i­an regime, not a demo­c­ra­t­ic repub­lic. This gross vio­la­tion of Amer­i­cans’ civ­il rights must end immediately.”

“What Don­ald Trump is doing is incom­pat­i­ble with the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of democ­ra­cy laid out by our founders and expand­ed through the gen­er­a­tions., said Wyden. “What Don­ald Trump is doing is total­ly out of control.”

The offi­cial response has been the cre­ation of the Pre­vent­ing Author­i­tar­i­an Polic­ing Tac­tics on America’s Streets Act, which would lim­it the use of fed­er­al offi­cers for crowd con­trol, man­date indi­vid­ual and agency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion for each fed­er­al offi­cer respond­ing to crowds and demon­stra­tions, require deploy­ments to be dis­closed and spec­i­fied via a relat­ed fed­er­al agency’s web­site with­in twen­­ty-four hours of such a deploy­ment, and make arrests in vio­la­tion of these rules unlawful.

Lat­er that same evening, between one and two thou­sand pro­test­ers marched to the Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty Jus­tice Cen­ter and Mark Hat­field Fed­er­al Cour­t­house with a “Wall of Moms” in yel­low and an assem­bly of self-iden­ti­­fied dads in orange shirts and haz­ard vests. They were met by fed­er­al offi­cers who threat­ened to shoot demon­stra­tors via their green laser tar­get lights and dis­persed them via tear gas and flash-bang grenades.

On July 22nd, the city of Port­land sent a cease and desist let­ter to the fed­er­al author­i­ties to remove a met­al fence which has been used to keep out protesters.

(Fences in rela­tion to the Port­land demon­stra­tions have a his­to­ry.)

Lat­er that evening, Port­land May­or Ted Wheel­er joined the demon­stra­tors, and was heck­led by some of them. The hos­tile recep­tion was pre­dictable giv­en that Wheel­er has, in the past, allowed the Port­land Police to use tear gas against these same demon­stra­tors and, while tech­ni­cal­ly in charge of the Port­land Police Bureau, has allowed Port­land police to hide their iden­ti­fi­ca­tion when coor­di­nat­ing their activ­i­ty with fed­er­al law enforce­ment officers.

Port­land City Com­mis­sion­er Jo Ann Hard­esty has accused both of exac­er­bat­ing the vio­lence in Port­land, while May­or Wheel­er has ques­tioned Com­mis­sion­er Hardesty’s recent claims that Port­land Police have embed­ded them­selves into crowds and set fire to prop­er­ties in order to frame demon­stra­tors for arson.

On Thurs­day, July 23rd, Judge Michael H. Simon — who serves on the Unit­ed States Dis­trict Court bench in the Court’s Ore­gon juris­dic­tion — issued an order to ban for four­teen days all fed­er­al offi­cers from using dis­per­sal orders, threats or force against any jour­nal­ist or legal observ­er doc­u­ment­ing the demon­stra­tions in down­town Port­land. In his deci­sion, he stat­ed: “None of the government’s prof­fered inter­ests out­weigh the public’s inter­est in accu­rate and time­ly infor­ma­tion about how law enforce­ment is treat­ing protesters.”

This evening, a small­er demon­stra­tion took place at the Jus­tice Cen­ter, where E.D. Mondainé, a Port­land pas­tor and pres­i­dent of the local NAACP, asked that focus of future demon­stra­tions be re-focused on the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment and the unwar­rant­ed deaths of Black Amer­i­cans at the hands of police.

While the Trump regime’s tar­get­ing of Port­land has attract­ed nation­al and inter­na­tion­al atten­tion, it’s not the only North­west city Trump and his min­ions have plans for. Seat­tle is also on the tar­get list, and as it turns out, has had spe­cial fed­er­al per­son­nel in the city since ear­ly July.

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