The Portland "Gestapo"

Federal stormtroopers are being deployed to fight America's graffiti crisis

Something scary is happening in Portland. It’s the very thing conservatives and especially the NRA have been warning about for years. The federal government has come to town and has literally started grabbing people off the streets and throwing them into unmarked (rental) vehicles.

As attorney Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, told Oregon Public Broadcasting: “It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay.”

Oregon Governor Kate Brown called the actions “a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”

Governor Brown went on to tweet: “Acting Secretary Wolf…is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.” She then added: “Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa.”

According to the Trump Administration, these troops belong to the Federal Protective Service, a federal police agency that protects federal facilities. They have been deployed to Portland because in the midst of the worst public health crisis in 100 years, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf is concerned that “violent anarchists” have been threatening to destroy America with… graffiti.

“There’s a word for this and the word is fascism.”

Here’s a selection of quotes from journalists and legal experts who have been sounding the alarm on Twitter:

Sarah Leah Witson, former director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch:

“Just like in Egypt!”

Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times journalist:

“Scenes from hometown Portland looking disturbingly similar to the other hometown Tehran.”

Richard Stengel, former Under Secretary of State for President Obama, former TIME editor and current MSNBC political analyst:

“When Putin illegally annexed Crimea he used unmarked soldiers and unmarked vehicles.”

Laurence Tribe, Harvard law professor:

“Shades of the way protesters were ‘disappeared’ in Argentina and in Gilead (in The Handmaids Tale). This is very bad news.”

Glenn Kirschner, NBC and MSNBC legal analyst:

“This federal response by Trump/Barr is not random or haphazard. It’s federal lawlessness & over-reach designed to inspire larger protests that, in turn will ‘require’ an even larger unmarked/anonymous, federal law enforcement response. It’s all part of the autocracy playbook.”

Others, including journalist Ben Adler, used the F-word:

“There’s a word for this and the word is fascism.”

“Absolutely unacceptable.”

In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Friday night, Governor Brown said:

“Americans ought to be outraged. And Oregonians are. This is absolutely unacceptable.”

Hayes commented:

“If two men come up to me with guns, in camouflage, and grab me to put me in a car, I’m not going with them. I don’t know who they are. I don’t know if they’re people who just bought camouflage in a store, and a police badge, and have a gun. I don’t know what authority they have.”

Even more worrying, as TPM’s Josh Marshall tweeted, this is not just an isolated incident. Trump’s “Acting” DHS head and his “Acting” deputy have a plan to take their new Gestapo force nationwide.

As Marshall goes on to point out: What this amounts to is Trump creating for himself a “private police force or domestic security service. It’s no accident that it’s ICE and CBP. They’re among the most politicized federal police agencies.”

In The Washington Post, deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus writes: “There is a difference between solving a legitimate problem (the destruction of public property) and picking a political fight. Trump, understandably terrified of losing reelection, appears intent on doing the latter.”

We’re still three and a half months away from Election Day. Trump’s desperation is mounting—and his abuses of power are getting worse. As Joyce Vance, University of Alabama law professor and MSNBC contributor, wrote on Twitter: “If no GOP voices object to this, what will they do if Trump refuses to abide by election results?”

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