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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Lee

Get Out of Portland, Trump

During his Rose Garden speech, President Trump warned that if "the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I [he] will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them and deploy the U.S. armed forces to bring to heel the states and cities where he views governors have responded inadequately to the widespread protests in response to the death of George Floyd."

Following the death fo George Floyd, a black man who was publicly suffocated to death by former police officer David Chauvin and three associates, protests erupted across the US. The Black Lives Matter protests held across Portland remained largely peaceful. But in late June, President Trump signed an executive order to protect federal property from destruction as protests began to center around the U.S. District courthouse. The incursion of federal officers into Portland has been overstepping the legal limits of federal law enforcement, as soldiers geared with crowd-control munition, military gear and tear gas square off with angry protestors in Portland against the wishes of Governor Kate Brown. According to President Trump, agents hailing from the Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service, U.S. Marshal Service - BORTAC and ICE are in Portland to "protect federal property." Protection of government property is usually enforced by the Federal Protection Service. In terms of the Constitution, this would make the arrival of federal officers in Portland completely legal, if they are solely protecting federal property. If there is a valid threat to federal property or against a federal officer arrests can be made. The President can also send federal troops to states if they are requested by state legislature or governors or if there is an legitimate threat to federal law. Furthermore, The Insurrection Act grants POTUS power to deploy the National Guard or the military to states if local authorities are unable to enforce federal law or protect the Constitutional rights of its citizens. Under these circumstances, sending federal troops to states is justified. However, POTUS must issue a proclamation in advance, ordering those violating the law to disperse in order to invoke this act. To this day, President Trump has yet to issue a proclamation, essentially violating the conditions of the Insurrection Act but still allowing the military incursion to continue.

But in Portland, the President has overstepped his authority. Federal officers in unmarked vehicles are forcefully seizing protestors from the streets without justification. These include protestors that pose no threat to federal buildings and officers. Many federal agents are seen occupying the streets of the city nowhere near the District courthouse. Federal personnel are diverting away from federal property they were sent to "protect", even when there is no evidence of a federal infractions.

Our Constitutional rights are also being brazenly violated. Using crowd control munition against peaceful protestors streets away from federal buildings and violating citizens rights to assembly and to petition the government for a "redress of grievances." Citizens are also being seized in unmarked government vans by federal agents without reason. The 4th amendment clearly states the right of the people to be secure "against unreasonable searches and seizures" without probable cause.

The Founding Fathers believed in maintaining strong state power to preserve individual liberty and fight against centralized government power. The Constitution ensures the sovereignty of states by granting the federal government precise and limited powers.

To accept the blatant abuse of power is to disrupt Federalism (the distribution of power between the state and the national government), the system set to prevent this very situation. If the actions of the federal government remain and continue to remain unchecked, their power will become almost boundless. The protests only stipulate the desperation of the people for justice and reform. For the federal government to go so far as to deny their natural rights and freedom of assembly/speech, is an incredibly severe misuse of power.


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