Reports: Federal Officers Detain Portland Protesters in Unmarked Vans

A protester in a Black Lives Matter shirt stands outside the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest
Jason Redmond/AFP/Getty Images

Federal law enforcement officers have moved to quell sustained Antifa violence in Portland, Oregon, and are reportedly detaining protesters in unmarked police vehicles.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), federal officers have been using unmarked vehicles to detain protesters since “a least” July 14, following weeks of protesters attacking cops, vandalizing federal buildings, and repeatedly attempting to light police precincts on fire.

According to OPB:

Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.

The tactic appears to be another escalation in federal force deployed on Portland city streets, as federal officials and President Donald Trump have said they plan to “quell” nightly protests outside the federal courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center that have lasted for more than six weeks.

“What is going on? Who are you?” one woman asks in a video showing two officers in camo escorting an individual to an unmarked vehicle.

“You just violated their rights,” one witness said as another accused them of “kidnapping people.” The reports sparked outrage from many on social media, some of whom described the action as “state terror.”

OPB spoke to protesters, who claimed that they were targeted for unknown reasons, insisting they were not “instigators.”

“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time,” he told the outlet. “And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.”

“I am basically tossed into the van,” Mark Pettibone, a protester, said. “And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head,”

The U.S. Marshals Service denied that its agency was behind Pettibone’s detainment.

“All United States Marshals Service arrestees have public records of arrest documenting their charges,” it said in a statement. “Our agency did not arrest or detain Mark James Pettibone.”

“Grabbing peaceful protesters off the streets of Portland and putting them in unmarked cars to detain them is unconscionable and terrifying. It is not de-escalation, it is not the Oregon way, and it must stop,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said in response to the reports, demanding the Trump administration to “answer for what they have done and end the militarization of our streets immediately”:

Protesters have, for weeks, targeted authorities in Portland, hurling rocks, water bottles, and commercial-grade fireworks their way night by night. Businesses in downtown Portland alone have lost $23 million as the criminal activity has dominated the streets — activity that continued Thursday night into early Friday morning.

Thsi is far from the first night of violence against officers. Weeks ago, protesters attempted to set a police precinct on fire with officers inside:

One demonstrator was caught on camera last week telling an officer, “I hope someone kills your whole fucking family.”

The Justice Center has also remained under siege, with protesters smashing its windows and setting it on fire.

Journalist Andy Ngo, who has firsthand experience with Antifa violence, has explained that depletion of resources remains a primary tactic of Antifa — a tactic used to effectively “defund” the police.

On Thursday, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf released a statement condemning the violence in Portland. He further provided an extensive list of the ” lawless destruction and violence of the past several weeks that [the] Department of Homeland Security and its subcomponents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Customs and Border Protection, and Federal Protective Service have faced.” The list details incidents from May 29 through July 15.

“The city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city,” Wolf said.

“Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it,” he continued:

A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice — to attack it is to attack America. Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day.

This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them. Again, I reiterate the Department’s offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced that he will take action on cities that have been overrun by violent protests over the last several weeks. Those include Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Portland, according to the president.

“They’re like war zones. And if the city isn’t to straighten out, if local politicians — or, in this case — I don’t say this for political reasons — they’re all Democrats. They’re liberal, left-wing Democrats,” he said.

“And it’s almost like they think this is going to be this way forever. Where in Chicago 68 people were shot and 18 died last week. We’re not going to put up with that,” he added. “We’re not going to put up with that.”


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