Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, with U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici, formally requested July 22 that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offices of Inspector General (OIG) to investigate the unrequested presence and violent actions of recently deployed federal forces in Portland.
The request for investigations follows federal operatives shooting a peaceful protester in the head, causing serious injury and hospitalization; reports and video recordings of unmarked federal agents grabbing protesters from the streets and taking them to unmarked minivans, apparently without probable cause; agents pepper spraying and breaking the hand of a Navy veteran; and nightly use of teargas and munitions against peaceful protesters.
“The American people deserve transparency and accountability,” the delegation wrote. “We live in a democratic republic, not an authoritarian police state. The repeated use of federal force against civilians warrants urgent investigation and raises serious questions about the directives behind this effort and misuse of force that has an apparently political motivation. Moreover, these tactics echo those that were used in Lafayette Square Park on June 1, 2020, for which a DOJ OIG investigation has also been requested.”
The delegation requested the OIG for both DOJ and DHS investigate federal forces’ actions: “We respectfully request that you immediately open full and comprehensive investigations into the deployment of federal law enforcement agents in Portland, Oregon and provide a detailed explanation about: the chain of command that governs these tactical response teams; their training and safety protocols on use of crowd control tactics and weaponry; their directives to apprehend civilians in downtown Portland; their coordination with local law enforcement officials and elected representatives, if any; and the intent of these tactics, which appear to be motivated not by reducing tensions between the people of Portland and law enforcement agencies but instead by a desire to demonstrate unfettered power over the people of Oregon.”
The delegation has also demanded answers about federal agents’ use of force; demanded that Attorney General William Barr and acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf remove their forces from Oregon; and introduced a bill that would block the Trump administration from deploying federal forces as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans.