Blumenauer, Colleagues Announce Legislation to Block Federal Paramilitary Occupations in Portland and Other American Cities

July 20, 2020
Press Release

U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), along with U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) today announced that they will introduce the Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act, which would block the Trump administration from deploying federal forces as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans.

 

Today’s announcement comes after a week in which heavily armed, unidentifiable federal forces in unmarked vehicles have been grabbing protesters off the street in Portland. Those forces have deployed munitions and tear gas against protesters nightly over the weekend. The federal incursion has inflamed conflict in Portland at a time when local leaders are working to de-escalate friction between protesters and police and has been opposed by Portland’s and Oregon’s elected leaders.

 

“The Trump administration’s egregious trampling of individual liberties and the right of free assembly should never have been allowed to happen. Yet it’s clear that the Gestapo-like tactics used in Washington, D.C. and now Portland are likely a dress rehearsal for other communities around the country,” Blumenauer said. “We must block this type of dangerous and undemocratic behavior once and for all.”

Specifically, the legislation announced today would:

  • Require individual and agency identification on uniforms of officers and prevent unmarked vehicles from being used in arrests.
  • Limit federal agents’ crowd control activities to federal property and its immediate vicinity, unless their presence is specifically requested by both the mayor and governor.
  • Require disclosure on an agency website within 24 hours of deployments specifying the number of personnel and purposes of deployment.
  • Make arrests in violation of these rules unlawful.

“What we have seen in the last 10 days in Portland has been horrific and unconscionable,” said Merkley. “Federal forces have shot an unarmed protester in the head with impact munitions, and paramilitary forces in camouflage have been grabbing people off the streets and putting them into unmarked vans. These are the actions of an authoritarian regime, not a democratic republic. This gross violation of Americans’ civil rights must end immediately.”

"Donald Trump's occupying army continues to trample on the constitutional rights of Oregonians and escalate violence against peaceful protesters," Wyden said. "If Congress doesn't step in, these authoritarian tactics won't stop in my hometown. If it can happen in Portland, it can happen anywhere."

“It is outrageous that there are newly deployed, unidentified federal officers on Portland streets,” said Bonamici. “This is what authoritarian regimes do; it’s not what we do in the United States. We must hold law enforcement accountable for violating the Constitutional rights of Oregonians and for escalating tensions in our community, and we must pass this legislation to block Trump from sending unidentified officers to operate with impunity in Portland and other cities across the country.”