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Portland mayor, leaders of other Democrat-led cities targeted by Trump call for laws restricting use of federal officers

OregonLive.com logo OregonLive.com 7/27/2020 By Everton Bailey Jr., oregonlive.com
a group of people in uniform: Federal officers gathered in downtown Portland on Saturday, July 25, 2020, for the 59th consecutive night of protests. © Dave Killen / The Oregonian/oregonlive.com/TNS Federal officers gathered in downtown Portland on Saturday, July 25, 2020, for the 59th consecutive night of protests.

Mayors of several major U.S. cities, including Portland, sent a letter to congressional leaders Monday calling on them to pass laws to block President Donald Trump from unilaterally sending federal officers to their jurisdictions.

The letter to U.S. House and Senate leaders calls it “unlawful and repugnant” for the President to be able to continue to deploy federal forces to cities without consulting local officials first and against objections. The mayors said the legislation should require consent from local authorities before deployments, the federal agents and their vehicles to have visible identification at all times unless on an undercover mission allowed by the local U.S. Attorney and limits on what crowd control tactics can be used to protect federal property.

The letter was signed by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.

“As demonstrated now in Portland, these federal forces have used the pretext of protecting federal property to also patrol streets, way outside of their lawful jurisdiction, arrest residents without cause and trample on Constitutional rights,” the letter said. “These actions further erode trust in government at all levels; are de-legitimizing local law enforcement; and escalate, rather than de-escalate tensions.”

1/8Read the letter3/8

This letter follows joint messages sent by Wheeler and other mayors last week to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting congress investigate the president and his administration’s actions in the deployment of federal forces. They also sent another letter demanding U.S. Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf immediately withdraw federal officers.

As first reported by OPB Sunday, the Trump administration plans to send dozens more deputy marshals to Portland to increase the number of federal forces stationed at the downtown federal court during nightly demonstrations.

Democratic Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden along with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici and Rep. Earl Blumenauer were among lawmakers who introduced legislation last week aimed at scaling back the use of federal officers against protesters in Portland and other cities. The proposals include clear identification for federal officers and limits on their crowd control activities as well as requiring public notification of federal deployments that specify the number of officers and the reason why they’re being sent.

Portland has seen nightly demonstrations for two months calling for police reforms and an end to systemic racism since the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in late May. Portland police and, in recent weeks, federal officers have repeatedly come under scrutiny for their use tear gas and other force on hundreds of protesters in response to a few who throw rocks, water bottles and fireworks at officers and graffiti private and public property.

Wolf told Fox News on Sunday that “additional actions” were coming to Portland as early as this week, but he didn’t specify what. He urged city and state leaders to work with federal law enforcement to end “violent crimes” during protests, saying demonstrators aim to “destroy that courthouse and injure law enforcement officers.”

He cited at least two federal officers who’ve been injured by having lasers shined into their eyes.

“All I need is the City of Portland to step up and do their job,” Wolf said. “These individuals are on city streets, they’re in city parks arming themselves every night and the city simply does nothing about it. Absolutely nothing.”

The city passed new policies last week banning all police bureau members from cooperating with federal law enforcement and intentionally using force on or arresting journalists and legal observers. The city has also ordered the federal government to remove the fence surrounding the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse or risk fines because it was placed in a bike lane without approved permits.

— Everton Bailey Jr.; ebailey@oregonian.com 5/8 503-221-8343 5/8 @EvertonBailey

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