DHS employees say Trump deploying federal agents to Portland is a ‘blatantly unconstitutional’ ’embarrassment’

Federal law-enforcement officers in Portland, Oregon, on July 18. Nathan Howard/Reuters
  • People in Portland, Oregon, have been protesting systemic racism and police violence since the police killing of George Floyd on May 25.
  • Last week, President Donald Trump deployed federal officers to the city.
  • Oregon’s attorney general has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security accusing law-enforcement officials of tossing teargas at demonstrators and detaining them without explanation.
  • BuzzFeed News spoke with 17 DHS employees who decried the government’s decision. One person called the response “blatantly unconstitutional and an embarrassment to the agency.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Trump administration’s decision last week to deploy federal agents to Portland, Oregon, to protect federal buildings – and suppress protests against racism and police brutality in the process – has been widely denounced.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called the move “a blatant abuse of power,” and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler decried it as “an attack on our democracy,” The New York Times reported.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is suing the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies, alleging they have violated the US Constitution and accusing law-enforcement officials of tossing teargas at demonstrators and snatching them off the street in unmarked cars in the name of guarding a federal courthouse.

“Mr. President: You are getting bad intel from your people if you think things have gone well here in Portland. The presence of your federal agents has made things significantly worse, including causing the greatest injuries so far. Thanks, but no thanks!” Rosenblum wrote on Twitter.

A report from BuzzFeed News said DHS’s rank and file were equally outraged by the president’s manoeuvre. Seventeen employees spoke with the news outlet on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t allowed to address the issue publicly.

“Despite working at DHS, I watch and learn about every day’s new descent into lawlessness and authoritarianism just like the rest of the world. Being a part of this corrupt regime, even as I play no role in the decision-making process, leaves me disgusted by my employer and saddened for my country,” one DHS worker told BuzzFeed News.

Portland protests trump anti police brutality federal agents black lives matter wall of mums dhs cbp
A crowd of about 1,500 protesters gather at the Multnomah County Justice Centre for a Black Lives Matter march on July 20 in Portland. Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Another employee suggested President Donald Trump was using federal force as arsenal for his reelection campaign.

“This administration’s utterly transparent fearmongering of sending federal officers out against peaceful protesters in Portland and Chicago has no purpose other than to support Trump’s reelection bid. It is blatantly unconstitutional and an embarrassment to the agency and the career civil servants who work here,” they told BuzzFeed News.

A DHS worker also said they were concerned that the disturbing visuals emerging from the streets of Portland reflected poorly on the entire organisation.

“Such actions appear to do less to restore law and order than they do to deepen the public’s distrust of DHS,” they told BuzzFeed News.

There is also trepidation among some DHS employees about being tapped for the crackdown in Portland. One of them told BuzzFeed News they did not agree to be, nor were they trained as, “a street cop.”

“Civil societies have immigration laws that need to be enforced, but that does not mean we should be used as this delusional president’s personal attack dog just because we happen to be available,” they said.

Read the full story from BuzzFeed News »

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