Federal Tyranny in Portland

A storm has been brewing in Oregon as the Department of Homeland Security has clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters for several days. Conservatives have claimed that President Trump has the right to invoke the Insurrection Act in order to protect federal property and due to violence that has erupted, while liberals have been claiming that this is overreach of government power. So, which side is correct? It appears that both sides have a point to some degree due to the fact that there is an obligation of the federal government to protect property under its possession, however, there have been many constitutional and civil liberties violations that need to be addressed. The federal government has overstepped its authority and has created a tyrannical force that could be mimicked in other cities in the future.

With the extreme utilization of tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades, it appears that federal troops in Portland have been performing more than just security duties over the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Groups like Don’t Shoot Portland and the Wall of Moms have been peacefully challenging the federal occupation of their city, and they have been met with disproportionate force (something you might expect to be exercised by the Israeli government against the Palestinians). Excessive force should not be condoned in the United States.

The federal response to these protests have violated the protestors’ First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights. The right to free speech and assembly have been violated because federal police were intimidating city residents and attempting to break up protests that were constitutionally protected, and the federal government has no right to discourage protesting. People have the right to protest, even right outside of federal property, and it only becomes a crime when trespassing or vandalism of the property occurs. All other forms of protest should be permitted. When people were being arrested far from the federal courthouse, it became clear that the deployment of federal troops was about more than just protection of federal property. Federal troops were deployed with the intent of halting free speech and assembly.

There were also reports of people having been seized and held by police with unmarked uniforms and vehicles, which was a violation of the Fourth and Fifth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures and being detained without due process. The Portland Police Bureau has been sued on the grounds of illegally collecting information on protesters, and the federal forces may have surveilled phone calls and text messages without warrants. Some protesters who were arrested were released on conditions that they could not reattend future protests. All of these actions further violated the First and Fourth Amendments.

As per the Tenth Amendment, the federal government is not allowed to perform basic law enforcement duties within state boundaries, and it is clear that Oregon and Portland officials did not request federal involvement. Therefore, any intervention by the federal government that did not pertain specifically to protecting the courthouse would be considered unconstitutional. The state and city governments were more than capable of protecting their citizens and preventing violence, and whether they chose to do so in a manner that the federal government did not like is irrelevant. Policing is a state power and not a federal one.

In the United States, there is no excuse for deploying federal troops for the purpose of quelling protests that are unfavorable to a president’s administration (not even the extraconstitutional border patrol enforcement within 100 miles of the border argument), and doing so is nothing less than tyranny. Although rioting, looting, property destruction, and other forms of violence should be condemned, and violent rioters have hijacked some of the peaceful protests, the federal government must protect all rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution, regardless of whether it agrees with how those individuals choose to exercise those rights. President Trump’s actions are not acceptable, and now there are potential plans underway to send federal troops to other cities across the country to police them and prevent violence. Could this become a common practice when a president does not agree with the message of certain protests? Will the president declare an emergency and utilize federal troops to further his own agenda? Will he use federal troops to stay in power past his term? People need to stand up against the police state before it becomes too late.

Thank you for reading, and please check out my book, The Global Bully, and website.
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Published on July 31, 2020 16:32
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