Former Obama-era US Attorney in Detroit, Barbara McQuade, makes herself heard from again — this time on the digital pages of New York magazine’s “Intelligencer” website. Her contribution this time is a largely nonsensical rumination on the wisdom of the tactics being employed by federal law enforcement agencies — “law enforcement” being the key phrase — who have been active over the past several days in Portland.
A showdown in policing philosophies is taking place on the streets of Portland, Oregon, where federal agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are working to suppress unrest following the death of George Floyd. In response to President Donald Trump’s directive to federal agencies to step up their efforts to protect federal properties from protesters, rapid-deployment teams of federal agents wearing camouflage uniforms and tactical gear have expanded their efforts from defending a U.S. courthouse to arresting protesters on the streets.
“Suppress unrest”?? Really? You mean like this:
BREAKING: They’ve torn down the fencing around the courthouse pic.twitter.com/MUWWbt6vBX
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) July 19, 2020
Part of the wood protecting the courthouse in Portland has been broken and a man is trying to make the hole bigger while bashing the wall inside.
Meanwhile, people continue to bring the fencing back.
Police have still not returned. pic.twitter.com/tUew07YIgo
— Shelby Talcott (@ShelbyTalcott) July 19, 2020
Or like this?
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 18, 2020
Regarding the “dress” of the federal agents, what does she think is behind the use of camo fatigues? Are they trying to blend into the surrounding jungle? Are they trying to avoid being spotted as they creep up on the protesters?
What about this thought — having all feds wear matching camo allows them to distinguish “friend” from “foe” in a maybe chaotic circumstance. Would she prefer if they went out into the street wearing black-out uniforms making it hard to distinguish law enforcement from Antifa? Some observations are needlessly dumb.
She also mentions that the federal agents have “tactical gear” without any explanation of 1) what she’s referring to, or 2) why such gear is inappropriate or unnecessarily provocative.
“Tactical gear” is usually possessed to … assist with the tactics that are going to be employed. So if the federal agents are going to arrest people, appropriate “tactical gear” might include handcuffs. If federal agents are going to expose themselves to a situation where objects are likely to be thrown at them, appropriate “tactical gear” might be helmets and shields.
McQuade doesn’t suggest what alternative “gear” they should be using — maybe barbeques, kegs, and bongs so they can turn it into another “Summer of Love” party like CHAZ in Seattle.
On the other side of the spectrum are local authorities, who oppose the heavy-handed response – to 50 straight days of protests – what about the nightly violence — in the city. Portland mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon governor Kate Brown have asked the federal agents to leave, accusing them of exacerbating the situation to rally political support for Trump.
McQuade doesn’t spend a single keystroke questioning what is behind their unified stance of doing nothing? All are Democrat politicians elected in a Democrat state. I’ve seen no reporting or other press coverage with regard to what strategy is behind their coordinated approach to do nothing. Are they allowing the protesters to exhaust themselves? Are they waiting for them to lose interest and move on? I would be willing to consider the wisdom of such ideas if any of them stepped forward and said: “Here’s our strategy, here’s what we hope to accomplish by this strategy, and here’s the timeline think will get us to our goal.” None of that has been suggested – only acquiescence to the streets of Portland being the home of violent demonstrations every night for nearly two months, and now that federal property is being damaged and federal officers being injured do we suddenly hear from Oregon’s elected leaders who offer only condemnation when outside authority steps in to do the job they won’t do.
How about this for an idea: deed the federal property in the City of Portland — if there is any — to the State of Oregon. Move every federal agency out of Portland, and relocate them in Bend. Take-down all the barriers and wood boarded up on the windows, open the doors and let the rioters have the building. Let’s see then what the people and the business community of the City of Portland have to say about Eugene, Bend, and Medford having all the federal facilities in the State. All those law firms in Portland representing clients in federal court matters — enjoy the six-hour round trip for a court appearance.
McQuade next mentions a lawsuit filed yesterday by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum. I wrote about that lawsuit — and its lack of substantiated facts — in this story yesterday.
Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum has filed a lawsuit, alleging that agents violated the law by arresting individuals and pulling them into unmarked vans. She has also started a criminal investigation into an incident that resulted in an injury to a protester near the federal courthouse. Even Trump’s own U.S. Attorney in Oregon, Billy Williams, has called for an investigation into the conduct of federal agents involved in alleged arrests without probable cause.
You seem to always be able to rely on Barb to embellish the facts where necessary. As I pointed out yesterday, the suit filed by Rosenblum references one actual incident and named one male who was detained in the federal building before being released without being charged. That is the same incident that US Attorney Williams has referred to the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether the federal agents involved violated any government policy by their actions.
As I noted yesterday, the balance of Rosenblum’s suit is based on “information and belief”, and includes no specifics as to other persons arrested with or without probable cause.
In this instance, can federal agents intervene in enforcing the law on the streets of Portland despite opposition from local leaders? Probably. If the agents were from agencies that target violent crime, such as the FBI or ATF, there would be no issue regarding arrests for assaulting federal officers with rocks or using fireworks as weapons.
“Probably”?? What?? Can the Mayor of Portland or the Governor of Oregon tell the FBI to not arrest bank robbery suspects outside the street? Can the Mayor of Portland and Governor of Oregon tell DEA Agents to not arrest drug dealers outside a national park? Federal agents enforcing federal law — especially where the local law enforcement agencies are being told expressly to not enforce the law — is not controversial at all, protests or no protests. If protesters put themselves in the “sights” of federal agents by violating federal law, they should expect to end up in handcuffs and a holding cell in the offices of the US Marshall inside the Hatfield Federal Building. That’s how the game is played. As my uncle used to tell me when I was a kid “Youse buy your ticket, youse takes your chances.”
In addition, as the New York Times reported Saturday, an internal DHS memo warned on Thursday that the federal agents operating in Portland did not have the specialized training or equipment to deal with mass demonstrations or riot control.
Even if these DHS agents can arrest protesters, an equally important question is should they. As former DHS assistant secretary Juliette Kayyem has noted, at a time when the department charged with protecting homeland security faces unprecedented threats to public health and the presidential election, “their priorities seem exceptionally misplaced.”
I’m having trouble imagining Barb typing those words across the screen of her computer without spitting up her coffee in a spontaneous fit of laughter that she might even suggest such an idiotic notion. Maybe she thinks the time of the agents would be better spent learning the finer points of “contact tracing” or preparing to guard post offices to safeguard mail-in balloting from attack by the Democrat party army of fraudsters.
Law enforcement is a social compact between community and police to protect the peace. Policing agencies derive their power from the consensus of the governed…. Overly aggressive tactics against certain groups can undermine the trust that is essential to serve effectively.
A few thousand — maybe — people are “protesting” in the streets of Portland every night, while approximately 650,000 residents stay home and try to live their lives. What about the social compact between the local law enforcement agencies and those 650,000 people? What is the obligation of the elected leadership of Portland and Oregon to secure the peace for the benefit of the entire community?
Even if the aggressive federal tactics are successful in suppressing violence in Portland, that success comes at a price. In addition to compromising protesters’ First Amendment rights to demonstrate, federal law enforcement is eroding public trust.
Blah, blah, blah, blah. Show me proof that the majority of Portland residents would not like to see the nonsense brought to a halt. If the people of Portland wanted to stand arm-in-arm with Antifa, why are 650,000 of them staying home? Why aren’t there 200,000 people in the streets rather than just a couple thousand ringing the streets around the federal building looking for a confrontation with federal law enforcement?
This is all Kabuki Theater by Oregon’s elected officials. They have no interest in bringing down the curtain on the protests. It’s exactly where they want it to be, doing exactly what they want it to be doing.