PROTESTERS in Portland are being arrested without probable cause by federal agents acting as a "secret police," activists claim.
Here is more about the tense standoff and the unrest in the largest city in Oregon.
Who are the ‘secret police’ in Portland?
Activists and lawmakers say federal agents are arresting people without probable cause in Portland as they protest racism and police brutality.
Protester Conner O’Shea told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he saw people wearing camouflage jump out of an unmarked vehicle.
“I see guys in camo,” O’Shea told OPB.
“Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh s***.
"I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”
O'Shea claims in a video he recorded that "Feds are driving around, grabbing people off the streets."
“I didn’t do anything f*****g wrong," he said, according to OPB.
"I’m recording this. I had to let somebody know that this is what happens.”
The mayor of Portland demanded Friday that President Trump remove militarized federal agents after some people were allegedly detained far from federal property they were sent to protect.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Mayor Ted Wheeler told reporters on Friday.
Why do people think ‘protesters are being kidnapped’?
O'Shea's friend Mark Pettibone told OPB that he was "basically tossed into" a van.
"And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head," he said.
Pettibone claims he was put into a cell and read his Miranda rights.
He said he would not talk to officers and was released after 90 minutes.
He said there was no paperwork or citation connected to his arrest.
“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time,” Pettibone told OPB.
“And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.”
Pettibone, 29, told The Associated Press that the four or five people who got out of the van looked "like they were deployed to a Middle Eastern war.”
Lawyer Juan Chavez of the Oregon Justice Resource Center told OPB that "it’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay."
“You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests,” he told the news outlet.
“It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.”
Video shows two people in helmets and green camouflage with “police” patches grabbing a person on the sidewalk, handcuffing them and taking them into an unmarked vehicle.
“Who are you?” someone asks the pair, who do not respond.
At least some of the federal officers belong to the Department of Homeland Security.
Customs and Border Protection said that its agents had information indicating that the person in the video was suspected of assaulting federal agents or destroying federal property.
“Once CBP agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location," the agency said.
"For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location."
The video showed no such mob, according to The Associated Press.
What did the ACLU of Oregon say?
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon said the federal agents appear to be violating people's rights, which “should concern everyone."
“Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street we call it kidnapping," said Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon.
"The actions of the militarized federal officers are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.”
The ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security and US Marshals Service on Friday.
The non-profit organization alleges that agents have been "indiscriminately using tear gas, rubber bullets, and acoustic weapons against protesters, journalists, and legal observers."
The lawsuit seeks to block federal law enforcement from "dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force against journalists or legal observers," according to a press release.
“This is a fight to save our democracy,” said Kelly Simon, interim legal director with the ACLU of Oregon.
“Under the direction of the Trump administration, federal agents are terrorizing the community, risking lives, and brutally attacking protesters demonstrating against police brutality.
"This is police escalation on top of police escalation.
"These federal agents must be stopped and removed from our city.
"We will continue to bring the full fire power of the ACLU to bear until this lawless policing ends.”
In addition, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said she would file a lawsuit in federal court against the Department of Homeland Security, the Marshals Service,
Customs and Border Protection and Federal Protection Service alleging they have violated the civil rights of Oregonians.
“This is part of the core media strategy out of Trump’s White House: to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data,” said Mayor Wheeler, a Democrat.
“And it is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials.”
US Attorney Billy Williams in Portland said Friday he has requested the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to investigate the actions of the DHS.
What did the DHS say?
The agency said in a statement to Fox News that employees are identifying themselves as Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents.
"The CBP agents identified themselves and were wearing CBP insignia during the encounter," the DHS said in a statement.
"The names of the agents were not displayed due to recent doxing incidents against law enforcement personnel who serve and protect our country."
What are the Portland protests?
The protesters are marching against racial injustice in the wake of the death of George Floyd and many others.
Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis in Memorial Day, and protests have raged around the country ever since.
Prosecutors say a police officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck for nine minutes as the Black man begged for help and other officers watched.
Protesters set fire to the Police Association building on July 18 as demonstrations intensified.
Demonstrators also burned an American flag hanging outside the Justice Center and replaced it with a Black Lives Matter sign.
Disturbing footage shows the moment federal police allegedly shot a protester in the head with a rubber bullet.
Federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the Portland protests so far, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday.
Some have been detained near the federal courthouse, which has been the scene of protests.
Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf visited Portland on Thursday and called the demonstrators “violent anarchists.”
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