Donald Trump’s federal cops used batons and tear gas to fight off Portland’s moms last night as protests entered day 55 in the city amid a growing backlash against the president’s troops.
Armed with assault rifles, federal cops pushed back against the helmet-wearing ‘Wall of Moms’ who were protesting their presence in the city and acting as human shields for Black Lives Matter protesters.
Footage showed the cops dispersing protesters with their bare hands and shoving some of the women in the chest while using tear gas to break up the crowds on Tuesday night.
The group of mothers and fathers have been forming a human barrier between demonstrators and police at protests this week, amid allegations of brutality by the federal agents.
As well as the backlash in the streets, the Trump administration is also facing one in the courts, with several lawsuits filed in the last week in efforts to force the federal agents out of the city.
This comes as Trump continues to plow ahead with his law and order takeover in Democrat-run states, as he vowed to send in 150 agents to tackle the wave of violence and ongoing protests in Chicago.
Federal officers pushed back moms in helmets using batons and tear gas, assault rifles being carried for crowd control pic.twitter.com/08SU3mRb4X
Hundreds of protesters gathered in the streets of Portland Tuesday night, holding banners aloft as they marched peacefully through the city.
The ‘Wall of Moms’ led protests outside the Multnomah County Justice Center, sporting their signature yellow t-shirts.
The group linked arms in peaceful protest for the fourth night while holding peace symbols and banners reading: ‘Don’t mess with mama bear’ and ‘Mother Mary lost a son to state violence’.
Most were pictured wearing face masks and cycle helmets, and several held aloft flowers.
Outside the central police precinct, demonstrators waved their cell phone lights as they sang a rendition of We Shall Overcome.
But the situation turned ugly after midnight as a small group of people moved toward the federal courthouse and tried to remove the fence around the building.
Without warning, federal enforcement officers began streaming out of the building, throwing tear gas canisters and firing rubber bullets and sting balls to disperse the crowd.
One masked demonstrator hurled an expletive at the officers while others tossed back some of the gas canisters.
‘Stay together, stay tight,’ the protesters chanted, backing away from the tear gas. ‘We do this every night.’
Protests demanding an end to racism and police brutality have taken place across Portland for almost two months – ever since the death of black man George Floyd at the hands of a white cop in Minneapolis during an arrest over a fake $20 bill.
But the yellow-clad activist moms have only taken to the streets since Saturday, driven by a need to protect fellow protesters after Trump sent in federal troops.
Mardy Widman, a 79-year-old grandmother of five, said she had stayed away from the protests against racial injustice for fear of contracting coronavirus but she felt compelled to act when federal agents arrived in the city.
‘It’s like a dictatorship,’ Widman said Monday, holding up a sign that read: ‘Grammy says: Please feds, leave Portland.’
‘I mean, that he can pick on our city mostly because of the way we vote and make an example of it for his base is very frightening.’
Federal forces were deployed to Portland early July, and tensions have arisen between law enforcement and protesters ever since with claims their deployment has sparked more violence and reignited demonstrations that were dwindling in size.
‘Right or left, I think here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re all very much opposed to the federal government taking over our streets,’ said Carlos, a demonstrator marching late Monday who asked to be identified only by his first name.
‘When you send federal troops here, you’re incensing the entire region.’
On July 11, a protester was hospitalized with critical injuries after a US Marshals Service officer struck him in the head with a round of less-lethal ammunition.
Anger flared again over the weekend after video surfaced of a federal agent hitting a Navy veteran repeatedly with a baton while another agent sprayed him in the face with pepper spray.
Richard Cline, principal deputy director of the Federal Protective Service, told reporters Tuesday that the officers are part of the Marshals Service and that the Justice Department’s inspector general is investigating.
The US Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) arm confirmed on Tuesday it has deployed officers from three paramilitary-style units to join a federal crackdown on protests in Portland.
‘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.
CBP, which patrols land borders and operates checkpoints for people arriving at US airports and other transportation hubs, has three specially trained units that have deployed officers to Portland, the official told Reuters.
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’.
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.’
Allegations have also surfaced of federal agents whisking people away in unmarked cop cars without probable cause.
On Monday, video showed federal agents in Portland firing tear gas at protesters pulling down fencing around the federal courthouse.
Federal agents again used force to scatter protesters early Tuesday and deployed tear gas and rubber bullets as some banged on the doors of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and tried to pull plywood off the shuttered entryway.
The boarded-up courthouse, which has been a focus of protests, is now covered with graffiti.
Portland police said some protesters lit fires in the street and tried several times to set them at the courthouse doors.
Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor have expressed anger over the presence of the federal agents, saying the city’s protests had started to ease just as the federal agents started taking action and stoking up more hostility.
‘It is time for the Trump troops to go home and focus their attention on other activities,’ Democratic Gov. Kate Brown told MSNBC.
Crowds in Portland had recently numbered fewer than 100 people but swelled to more than 1,000 over the weekend as outrage grew at the federal agents’ presence and their heavy-handed tactics.
While outrage has been building in the streets over the move, lawsuits have also been filed against the Trump administration.
One suit filed Tuesday claims federal agents are violating protesters’ 10th Amendment rights by engaging in police activities designated to local and state governments.
The legal action was filed by the Portland-based Western States Center, which helps organize and promote the rights of communities of color and low-income people.
This comes after Oregon’s attorney general sued last week, asking a judge to block federal agents’ actions.
The state argued that masked agents have arrested people on the street, far from the US courthouse that’s become a target of vandalism, with no probable cause.
Trump is showing no signs of backing down after he said Monday he would also send federal agents to other cities including Baltimore, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia to crack down on protests there.