August 13, 2020
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Tensions escalate as federal officials intervene in nationwide protests

By Jesse Stiller
Nation & World Editor

Clashes between federal officials and protesters fighting against police brutality began in Portland, Oregon, leading to tense scenes in the city for over 60 nights straight. Reports from the Justice Department are now showing that more federal officials are arriving in other cities throughout the nation, including Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland.

“On Friday night, a small group of protesters broke away from the larger crowd and began rocking a section of the fence back and forth and tossing fireworks into the barricaded area at around 10:45 p.m.,” according to CNN. “Federal agents responded with a small release of flash bangs and a few canisters of tear gas.”

These clashes have gone on for weeks. According to TIME Magazine, one person had been stabbed amidst the chaos in the early hours of the morning on Saturday, July 25. A suspect has been taken into custody.

As a part of the Trump administration’s Operation Legend and in response to recent protests, federal officials have been deployed to Portland, among other cities (Twitter).

The crowds include a wide variety of individuals, with groups of veterans now joining in the protests, tweeting “#WallOfVets” to show their solidarity, according to CNN.

According to TIME Magazine, crowds gathered around the federal courthouse in Portland and set off fireworks at the building, while tear gas dispensed by federal officials loomed above.

On the night of Wednesday, July 23, according to the New York Times, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler got caught in the crossfire of tear gas from the federal officials. He called the scene an “‘urban warfare.’”

Others have also experienced similar reactions. As Vietnam veteran and photographer Mike Hastie was speaking to federal officials, one federal officer pepper sprayed him, according to videographer Andrew Kimmel, who recorded the event and posted it to Twitter.

Another individual was shot with crowd-control munition on the night of July 11, leading to severe injuries. The man, Donavan La Bella, 26, suffered skull fractures that lead to a facial reconstructive surgery on Sunday morning, according to The Oregonian.

The event was also recorded by protesters on the scene and posted to Twitter.

In a military briefing in Florida on July 10, President Donald Trump approved of the more aggressive enforcement of federal officials in reaction to these protests, according to The Oregonian.

NPR reported that federal agents were using unmarked vehicles and arresting citizens indiscriminately. From this, lawsuits have been filed against federal officials, some of which have been dismissed, according to the New York Times.

The move from the Trump administration to put federal troops in Portland, according to the BBC, netted a response from the Mayor Wheeler, stating that the troop deployments “‘were sharply escalating the situation.’”

“‘They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave,’” Wheeler said, according to BBC.

According to CNN, more than a dozen mayors have signed a letter addressed to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, calling to withdraw federal troops. The letter stated that the tactics were akin to “‘authoritarian regimes’” and “‘inconsistent with our system of democracy and our most basic values.’”

According to the New York Times, more federal troops were announced on Thursday to be on standby for Seattle.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, according to the New York Times, also voiced her opposition to the move, stating that the deployment of troops, in her view, “‘would undermine public safety.’”

While The New York Times reported on July 29 that federal officials have agreed to withdraw from Portland on the condition that the federal courthouse can be secured, other cities are preparing for federal troops to arrive in their own neighborhoods. The concern stems from the Trump administration’s Operation Legend, which announced an expansion to include cities such as Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee.

“Operation Legend is a sustained, systematic and coordinated law enforcement initiative in which federal law enforcement agencies work in conjunction with state and local law enforcement officials to fight violent crime,” according to the Justice Department’s website.

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