Black Lives Matter protesters in Portland are being picked up off the streets and detained by federal officers in unmarked cars, according to reports by The Washington Post and Oregon Live. One protester told the Post he was detained by several men wearing military fatigues and basic “police” patches driving in unmarked vans early Wednesday morning (July 15).
“I was terrified,” protester Mark Pettibone said. “It seemed like it was out of a horror/sci-fi, like a Philip K. Dick novel. It was like being preyed upon.”
According to the outlet, Pettibone was searched by the men and detained in a federal courthouse holding cell. Two officers read him his Miranda rights and he was soon released. Pettibone still doesn’t know if he was technically arrested or by whom. The account follows reports from Oregon Public Broadcasting about federal officers spraying tear gas and firing less-lethal rounds of shots into crowds, detaining protesters and driving through the city in unmarked cars.
Protests have continued in Portland for nearly two months since the police killing of George Floyd. Donald Trump previously deployed federal officers from the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security to respond to the protests, despite local politicians expressing their concern over the officers’ tactics. On Saturday (June 18), a U.S. Marshals Service officer critically injured a protester by firing a less-lethal round at his head.
“A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police,” Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden tweeted on Thursday (July 16) in response to the incident. “Now Trump and [Department of Homeland Security Secretary] Chad Wolf are weaponizing the [Department of Homeland Security] as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has also called on Trump to remove federal officers from the city.
“I told the acting secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use,” he tweeted Tuesday (July 14). “We do not need or want their help.”
On Twitter, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called the protesters “violent anarchists” and said he would “never surrender to violent extremists.”