For weeks now, President Donald Trump has promised to bring down the mighty hammer of the law upon violent protesters and rioters ravaging urban areas across the nation for nearly two months. And, finally, on Friday, militarized federal officers detained numerous protesters in Portland, Oregon, pulling suspected rioters and criminals into unmarked SUVs.
As reported by The Nation, a unit from the Customs and Border Protections made the arrests. Â“The Portland arrest of Mark Pettibone, first reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, followed several similar arrests involving officers from a Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC)Â—CBPÂ’s equivalent of a SWAT teamÂ—as well as the US Marshals Special Operations Group,Â” the reportÂ said. Â“A CBP spokesman confirmed to The Nation that CBP agents were responsible for the arrest, pointing to authorities under the Protecting American Communities Task Force.Â”
Of course, the imagery superseded the reality and the media depicted the overdue justice as an apocalyptic scenario, drawing absurd Nazi Germany comparisons. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) claimed Â“Unidentified stormtroopers. Unmarked cars. Kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti. These are not the actions of a democratic republic. @DHSgovÂ’s actions in Portland undermine its mission. Trump & his stormtroopers must be stopped.Â”
Â“First Amendment speech should never be met with one-sided violence from federal agents acting as TrumpÂ’s secret police, especially when unidentified,Â” Pelosi continued. Â“This is disgraceful behavior we would expect from a banana republic Â— not the government of the United States.Â”
Other politicians also condemned the tactics, melodramatically declaring these arrests as the first wades into a fascist police state. Bernie Sanders tweeted Â“Against the wishes of state and local officials, unmarked federal agents in combat gear have invaded parts of Portland, Oregon. This is what a police state looks like. These troops must be withdrawn immediately. We must defend the Constitution. We must defeat Trump.Â”Â
â€śAuthoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters,â€ť tweeted the United States Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat representing Oregon.
â€śThis is not the America we want. This is not the Portland we want,â€ť Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said at a news conference. â€śWeâ€™re demanding that the President remove these additional troops that he sent to our city. It is not helping to contain or de-escalate the situation, itâ€™s obviously having exactly the opposite impact.â€ť
However, these tactics exist solely on a practical plane, as much as the media and politicians promulgate the dystopian interpretation of the arrests. Truth be told, the incessant harassment of our heroes in law enforcement causes any enforcement of the law to be misconstrued as brutality. Arresting an ANTIFA member at a protest would, without a doubt, turn ugly for the officers. And the CBP admitted as such, reiterating Â“a large and violent mob moved towards (the agentsÂ’) location. For everyoneÂ’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioningÂ” during one of their arrests in a statement.
Plucking out suspected terrorists from protests and avoiding any risk of violently increasing tensions between law enforcement and protesters should make a lot of sense. Since the CBP Â“had information indicating the person in the video was suspected of assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property,Â” as they did with all of the arrests made, isolating suspects for questioning defuses the mobs coming for the officers and allows justice to finally come down on those destroying property in the riots.Â
Besides, the arrests resemble more of a traditional arrest, with the added isolation of pulling a protester to the side for pure safety measures, instead of a white van kidnapping. While frightening, the agents drive a suspect to a federal courthouse for questioning in a holding cell and then either bring them into custody or, if the agents grabbed the wrong individual, release them back on the streets. So long as the agents can support probable cause, frankly, no damage is done.Â
Â Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf came to the tactics defense, stating, Â“Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it. A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice Â– 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.Â”
As one of the hardest-hit cities seen in an extensiveÂ listÂ of violent acts released by the DHS Portland has been walloped by violent demonstrations and the federal government finally intervening should be celebrated. For nearly two months, cities have allowed rampant crime and destructive riots to burn themselves to the ground with little to no action taken by law enforcement, simply out of fear of losing their jobs and their livelihoods. Resources have been drawn away from police departments as apart of the police defunding campaigns taking hold of cities, tying police officersÂ’ hands behind their backs.
In Chicago, police surrounded a Christopher Columbus statue to protect it from a solidarity rally in Grant Park, only to be met by bottles and even fireworks launched at them. After twelve arrests and eighteen hospitalized police officers, a group of elected officials stated Â“we unequivocally condemn Mayor Lori Lightfootâ€™s decision to send the Chicago police to beat, arrest, and terrorize the demonstrators and journalists gathered in Grant Park tonightÂ” and they would â€śwork to defund the Chicago Police Department immediately.â€ťÂ
If police officers try to protect federal property, even their own cities condemn them. Protesters beat them, injure them, and send them to the hospital. So an explosive rise in violent crime in large urban areas like New York City, which has seen a 130% uptick in shootings in June compared to last year, according to the New York Police Department, shouldnÂ’t come as much of a surprise. And New York City Chief of Crime Control Strategies Michael LiPetriÂ told reportersÂ at a press conference on Monday afternoon, Â“We have the knowledge to stop shootings; itÂ’s unfortunate that most of our powers were taken away to stop the shootings. Knowledge is power? Well, we have the knowledge, we donÂ’t have the power.â€ť
Therefore, the federal government must now begin stepping in. Senseless violence under the guise of racial injustice must be stamped out and, if cities wonÂ’t do it, then the federal government must take matters into their own hands. To prevent violence and rioting to tear cities apart, the solution will be found in greater law enforcement and more targeted law enforcement, not less. And, thanks to employing tactics of extracting single protesters suspected of violence, this will not birth an authoritarian police state, as so many on the left heed warnings of. If cities would have put their feet down earlier, there would have been no need for federal government intervention. The riots have persisted for far too long. Law and order must be reinstated.
Political Communications major at Illinois State University. Vince aut morire, my fellow patriots.