Paramilitary officers sent to Portland to join crackdown on protests: U.S. Homeland Security 

Paramilitary officers sent to Portland to join crackdown on protests: U.S. Homeland Security 

Mark Hosenball

Posted July 22, 2020 9:11 am


Updated July 22, 2020 9:48 am

Trump orders federal forces to crackdown on Portland protests

ABOVE: Trump orders federal forces to crackdown on Portland protests.

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection arm confirmed on Tuesday it has deployed officers from three paramilitary-style units to join a federal crackdown on protests against police violence in Portland, Oregon.

“We have agents and officers from our special operations groups deployed,” a CBP official said in an email. The official did not respond to questions about the number of officers deployed.

READ MORE: Portland protests — what to know as federal agents clash with protesters

Multiple videos posted online showed camouflage-clad officers without clear identification badges using force and unmarked vehicles to transport arrested protesters, tactics that civil-rights advocates said could violate protesters’ right to free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has been sliding in opinion polls as he seeks re-election, has vowed to also send federal agents to cities including New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, which critics said would amount to a use of federal power for political ends.

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Portland protests: White House vows Trump won’t allow the city to ‘become the new CHOP’

Portland protests: White House vows Trump won’t allow the city to ‘become the new CHOP’

CBP, which patrols land borders and operates checkpoints for people arriving at U.S. airports and other transportation hubs, has three specially trained units that have deployed officers to Portland, the official told Reuters.

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According to the CBP’s website, one of these units, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit, “provides an immediate response capability to emergent and high-risk incidents requiring specialized skills and tactics.”

READ MORE: U.S. officers’ actions in Portland a ‘red flag’ as Trump plans more crackdowns, experts say

CBP said it also sent agents from its Border Patrol Search, Trauma and Rescue and Special Response teams to Portland.

Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, criticized the Trump administration’s deployment of such forces.

“Donald Trump has no justification for deploying paramilitary troops to the streets of Portland or any other American city,” Wyden said. “These occupying forces are creating conflict, attacking peaceful protesters and making my hometown more dangerous. For Portland to find peace, Trump needs to pull unwanted federal agents out of our city immediately.”

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© 2020 Reuters


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