Portland Mob Rule and the ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union takes a side.

Portland Oregon has become the epicenter of anarchist rioting in the United States. The rioters have attacked federal law enforcement officers and agents who have tried to protect federal buildings from being ransacked or burnt down. Not surprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union has rushed to the rioters’ defense. Meanwhile, prominent black leaders in Portland have complained that their message is being drowned out by the mostly white “fringe” elements engaging in violence.

Vera Eidelman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, praised what she called a “beautiful uprising.” She described the determined efforts to restore order and protect lives and property as “an unconstitutional nightmare” and vowed that the “The ACLU will not let the government respond to protests against police brutality with still more brutality.” True to her word, the ACLU is bringing lawsuits against federal law enforcement officers trying to protect lives and property, on top of the lawsuits the ACLU already filed against state and local law enforcement agencies. After all, mob uprisings are a "beautiful" thing to behold so long as they serve the radical left’s “righteous” cause.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Chad Wolf, who arrived in Portland on Thursday July 16th,  said he had called Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown to offer "DHS support to help them locally address the situation that's going on in Portland.” Wheeler tweeted in response, "We do not need or want their help. The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether."

Acting Secretary Wolf, operating under President Trump’s lawful direction to protect federal personnel and property, replied that his federal officers are not going anywhere. “DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them,” Wolf said. “A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice - to attack it is to attack America."

The federal sites in Portland needing enhanced protection, which local authorities have failed to adequately provide, include the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, Pioneer Courthouse, and the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building. On July 11th – five days before Wolf arrived in Portland to further beef up federal law enforcement – federal authorities arrested Jacob M. Gaines, a white man who tried to break into the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Gaines allegedly struck a federal marshal deputy three times with a hammer in the upper back, lower neck, and in the shoulder. All the marshal deputy was trying to do was to protect the courthouse from this aggressive intruder.

Pursuant to its statutory authority under 40 U.S. Code § 1315 to protect federal property, the Department of Homeland Security has formed “rapid deployment teams,” including officers from other agencies to back up the Federal Protective Service. However, there are no “federal troops” in Portland, as Mayor Wheeler falsely charged. Federal officers and agents authorized under the statute to enforce federal laws and regulations for the protection of federal property are permitted to “carry firearms.” They may also “make arrests without a warrant” under certain circumstances. And the federal officers and agents are authorized to “conduct investigations, on and off the property in question, of offenses that may have been committed against property owned or occupied by the Federal Government or persons on the property.”

After mobs threatened Thursday night to set the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse on fire while refusing to disperse, federal law enforcement officials took firm action in response, pursuant to their statutory authority. They used tear gas and other non-lethal means to break up menacing crowds. They also reportedly tried to identify the alleged perpetrators and separate them from the crowds in order to defuse a potentially explosive situation.

The ACLU seized upon reports that federal law enforcement officers in camouflage with no identification or badges were allegedly using unmarked vehicles to pluck people off the street and detain them without probable cause. “Usually when we see people in unmarked cars forcibly grab someone off the street,” the ACLU tweeted, “we call it kidnapping — what is happening now in Portland should concern everyone in the US. These actions are flat-out unconstitutional and will not go unanswered.” House Speak Nancy Pelosi added her own two cents when she said that federal police were “kidnapping” protesters, and compared the arrests to a “banana republic.”

When I asked Kelly Simon, ACLU’s interim legal director in Oregon, what solid proof the ACLU had that federal officers in unmarked vehicles engaged in “kidnapping” innocent people, she told me that I had asked “a terrifying question.” Simon’s response says all one needs to know about her and the far-left organization she works for. The ACLU’s lead lawyer in Oregon is terrified by the prospect of having to offer solid proof for her far-left organization’s charges of unjustified secret police-style tactics. Simon finally admitted that the ACLU was still investigating the allegations, even though she was already prepared to pronounce a guilty verdict.

Credible allegations of lawbreaking by anyone, including by those responsible for enforcing the law, deserve to be investigated. The federal government is doing just that, but without the ACLU’s reckless rush to judgment. U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said in a statement on Friday that “Based on news accounts circulating that allege federal law enforcement detained two protesters without probable cause, I have requested the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General to open a separate investigation directed specifically at the actions of DHS personnel.”

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has commented on one video of a person taken into detention and removed from the immediate area of strife. The individual was suspected of either assaults against federal agents or destruction of federal property, neither of which can be tolerated in a civilized country. “Once CBP agents approached the suspect, a large and violent mob moved towards their location,” according to CBP’s statement. “For everyone’s safety, CBP agents quickly moved the suspect to a safer location for further questioning. The CBP agents identified themselves and were wearing CBP insignia during the encounter. The names of the agents were not displayed due to recent doxing incidents against law enforcement personnel who serve and protect our country.”

Not willing to wait for a full-scale investigation into what federal law enforcement officers actually did and why, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced her own lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service in federal court. Mum’s the word, however, from Rosenbaum and the ACLU as mob violence continued over this past weekend. Flash alerts from the Portland Police Bureau documented the violence both local police and federal law enforcement officers had to contend with on the ground, fully justifying the strong response that President Trump has directed.

On Friday night, Portland police arrested at least seven people, the majority of whom were white. Charges included assaulting or interfering with public safety officers and “Riot,” a C Felony. On Saturday night, county and federal law enforcement officers who exited their respective buildings to clear doorways to their buildings that rioters had tried to barricade “were subject to projectiles such as rocks, bottles, pieces of metal and other thrown objects,” the Portland police reported. “People in the crowd fired commercial-grade fireworks at them.”

The ACLU’s Kelly Simon is the typical white leftwing progressive who panders and condescends to the black community at the same time. “Being a white woman has taught me that my power is maintained until I yield it,” Simon declared. “The ACLU of Oregon is still learning how to use and yield our power in ways that empower the people, especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), and disempower the institutions that serve and maintain white supremacy.”

Who is Simon trying to kid? What power is she claiming to “yield” and to whom? Kelly is yielding nothing when she and her ACLU comrades continue to defend the mostly white anarchists in Portland who have hijacked the message that some leaders in Portland’s relatively small black community have been trying to deliver peacefully.

Kali Ladd is one example of a local black leader who is disgusted with the anarchists’ violence. She is a black entrepreneur in Portland who co-founded KairosPDX, a non-profit dedicated to closing opportunity and achievement gaps for historically marginalized children. “These white actors are enacting dominance in a different form under the guise of equity,” Ms. Ladd said. “White supremacy has many forms.”

Ron Herndon, who organized the Portland chapter of the Black United Front and has been a long-time critic of the Portland police, sent Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office an e-mail back on June 30th  that should have been a wakeup call. Herndon wrote about a disturbance which had occurred in front of Portland’s police union headquarters near Herndon’s home. “It has nothing to do with helping Black people,” Herndon said. “These hoodlums are needlessly scaring neighbors and their children.” The police, he added, ”have shown more restraint than I could ever muster up.”

Herndon noted that when the Black United Front had demonstrations regarding police misconduct or other issues, “these same elements showed up, tried to distract, act discretely: 99% were White; our security squad physically removed them from our demonstrations.”  

Without a tough response from law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels, the violence by the “elements” Ron Herndon warned about will continue.

Kelly Simon and her cohorts at the ACLU are defending the “hoodlums” – largely white agitators – under the guise of fighting “white supremacy.” As Ron Herndon said in concluding his June 30th e-mail: “At some point enough is enough.” That point has arrived.

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