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Lawmakers Push Investigation of Unidentified Federal Troops in Oregon

Oregon's U.S. attorney wants a investigation of arrests made by unidentified federal officers in Portland, as state and local leaders demand answers.
Posted at 5:04 PM, Jul 18, 2020

The U.S. Attorney for the Oregon District is calling for an investigation into the unidentified, masked federal troops who arrested protesters in the city.

The request by U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams came after a video of heavily armed officers in camouflage arresting a protester, putting him in an unmarked SUV and driving off without explanation. Another Portland protester suffered a fractured skull when struck by a projective fired from officers outside the federal court house.  

The U.S. attorney isn't the only one calling action to the situation. Two of Oregon's senators and two U.S. Representatives have also requested a federal investigation after federal troops shot a peaceful protester in the head, causing serious injury and hospitalization.

In a press release, one representative said, "The overly aggressive conduct of federal officers in Portland is alarming and unconstitutional. Oregonians must be able to exercise their First Amendment rights safely, without being picked up and detained by unidentified federal officers."

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have called on President Donald Trump to remove the federal agents from the city. The governor told CNN the president is more interested in "political theater than in public safety."

"It's absolutely outrageous. Oregonians are appalled and Americans across the country should be as well. But it shouldn't be a surprise that the Trump administration is refusing to engage in deescalation and in dialogue."

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court that would prevent the federal agents from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest or using physical force against a journalist or legal observer.

President Trump has praised federal officers for doing "a great job" in the Portland crackdown. Officers have been dispatched to the city by the Department of Homeland Security. U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement says it is also participating. 

Demonstrators have been protesting racial inequality and police brutality for the past 50 nights in Portland. On Thursday, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported federal officers had charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests to date.