COLUMN – Trump’s occupy Portland gambit
by Mel Gurtov
Published - 07/19/20 - 12:30 PM | 3301 views | 7 7 comments | 31 31 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mel Gurtov
Mel Gurtov

Federal troops in camouflage, without identification, heavily armed, uncommunicative, roving in unmarked cars, seizing and incarcerating peaceful protesters without charging them. Acting without invitation. No reporting of this deployment to any state authority. No official justification of the Constitutional or other basis for dispatching these troops. 

What is this: Chile under Pinochet? A reenactment of Costa Gavras’ “Z”? Turkey under Erdogan, or Syria under Assad?

No, it’s Portland, Ore. right now.

The protests against this federal deployment by Oregon’s state and local leaders are fulsome, but will the governor act to remove these play soldiers and let Donald Trump know that his test run at military occupation cannot stand?

Here’s what some prominent senators are tweeting:

“Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.” Ron Wyden, D-Oregon.

“I thought we’d already covered this after the attacks in Lafayette Square: the US government should not be using unidentified federal officers as a secret police force to terrorize US citizens and violate their constitutional rights. This is outrageous.” Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts

“Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters. These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end… these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification. Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans. We demand not only that these acts end, but also that they remove their forces immediately from our state.” Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon

Sen. Merkley speaks for all of us when he tweets Trump: “Get your DHS lackey and uninvited paramilitary actions out of my state. Our communities are not a stage for your twisted reelection campaign.” Gov. Kate Brown should authorize the state police and national guard units to physically remove Trump’s henchmen.

Several commentators have pointed out that Trump has failed to provide a look into his priorities if he is reelected. Oh, really? Look again.


Mel Gurtov, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is professor emeritus of political science at Portland State University and blogs at In the Human Interest.


Comments-icon Post a Comment
July 22, 2020
Mel Gurtov is a liar. A typical liberal "professor" for whom honesty and ethics are strangers.
Margo A. Sommerfeld
July 20, 2020
You need to recheck the laws. The Feds can protect

all Federal buildings and the area around them.

These aren’t peaceful protests. This is anarchy and

we plain old boring Americans are sick of it.

There is a reason the press are accused of Fake News

and I think we all know what that is.

Might be nice if you reported the honest news, and not

propaganda intended to support one side.

Since they are just “play soldiers”, the mayor shouldn’t

be upset by them.
Not peaceful
July 20, 2020
I don't see a peaceful protest! If the Mayor and Governor stepped up and do what they were elected to do and take care of ALL their citizens there would be no need for federal agents.I'm behind President Trump and DHS to bring Civility back to our streets.
Reality Check
July 20, 2020
All I see are spoiled brats out of control looting and rioting. There is nothing peaceful going on. The moms that stepped in are the very mothers that raised these brats
Nancy P
July 20, 2020
"Trump should make everyone wear a mask"...

"Trump should not enforce laws in cities or states."

It is an Authoritarian Buffet where you can pick and choose the authoritarian policies you like. Great!
Robert Burns
July 20, 2020
To me the touchstone is the basis in any law for doing so. Protecting Federal property is one thing, and any action incognito even then is another. I want answers.
Darla C
July 20, 2020
I think we should ask the people of Oregon what they want because I am certain they want law and order. All of the supposed "peaceful protests" have been anything but that and we the people want law and order restored. The senseless destruction of business, the rioting, looting, and killing of innocent people must be stopped. Why haven't the elected officers of Oregon done their job? Our President shouldn't have to clean up their mess!
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