In Portland, Oregon, Trump has taken advantage of ongoing demonstrations against police brutality to send in officers from the Department of Homeland Security. These officers have been violently arresting protesters, picking them up on the streets, in unmarked vans. As one protester said, “see guys in camo. Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh s*#t. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”
Trump’s DHS secretary, Chad Wolf, has explained that his office had chosen to send DHS officers, claiming that Portland was under siege by “a violent mob” and “antifa terrorists” and other fantastic claims. No, Portland has seen Black Lives Matter demonstrations just like almost everywhere else, led by young people and full of anger and hope for change. Portland has also seen confrontations between protesters and far-right racists. These racists are the same kind of people Trump flirts with by hinting that he supports them.
This use of federal agents in Portland is a play by Trump to look strong for his supporters by attacking protesters, doing it over the heads of Democratic politicians like Portland mayor Ted Wheeler and Governor Kate Brown. These politicians have all condemned Trump, and rightly pointed out that this is an election-year stunt.
However, in making this move, Trump shows just how easily constitutional rules and rights can be pushed aside if politicians and the wealthy interests they represent feel that it serves their needs. We are reminded of the fact that though the government is completely unprepared to handle a pandemic to save lives, when it comes to terrorizing the population, the government is ready and able at the drop of a hat.
featured image credit: Twitter post from July 15, 2020