Jul 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Protests swell in Portland, as Trump threatens to send federal agents to Democratic cities

A large crowd of people wearing helmets and facemasks
Protesters in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 20 in Portland, Oregon. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Black Lives Matter protests swelled in Portland, Ore., on Monday night, CBS News reports, as demonstrations against police violence have continued in the city for more than 50 days.

The big picture: The ramp-up came hours after President Trump threatened to send federal law enforcement into other cities run by Democrats. Demonstrations against excessive use of police force sparked by the killing of George Floyd while in police custody have overall been peaceful in cities around the country.

  • "Well, I’m going to do something — that, I can tell you. Because we’re not going to let New York and Chicago and Philadelphia and Detroit and Baltimore and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country. All run by liberal Democrats," Trump said.
  • "And you know what? If Biden got in, that would be true for the country. The whole country would go to hell. And we’re not going to let it go to hell."

Driving the news: Homeland Security is reportedly drafting plans to send roughly 150 federal agents into Chicago this week, the Chicago Tribune reports.

  • Roughly 2,000 Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Coast Guard and Transportation Security Administration officials are currently on standby for deployment to cities, the New York Times reports.
  • More protesters joined the fray in Portland after Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) reported that DHS officers and federal agents have detained demonstrators in unmarked vehicles without explanation.

DHS did not respond to a request for comment.

Details: Mark Pettibone, a Portland demonstrator, told the Washington Post that he was detained by "men in green military fatigues and generic 'police' patches" in an unmarked minivan last Wednesday. He said he was let go after being held at the federal courthouse.

What they're saying: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told NPR over the weekend that Trump ordering DHS' involvement "is an effort — a last-gasp effort by a failed president with sagging polling data who's trying to look strong for his base."

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi characterized the federal agents in Portland as "stormtroopers," calling their use an "egregious" abuse of power. House Democrats have called for an investigation.
  • "People cannot ignore what is happening in Portland and what may be coming to their city," Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) told his colleagues in the House on Tuesday.
  • "This rhetoric is unhelpful and gives the violence we have seen a pass. But President Trump will not give the violence a pass,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Tuesday, in response to Pelosi.

Meanwhile: Democratic mayors in Portland, Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, Mo., and Washington, D.C., on Monday condemned federal agents for dispersing protesters in their cities over the past two months, in letters to congressional leadership and the Trump administration.

A federal officer points at a protester with tear gas in the background
A federal officer points to a protester in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 20 in Portland. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images
An officer spreads pepper spray in front of a protester
A federal officer pepper sprays a protester on July 20 in Portland. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images
Protesters gather around a truck
Protest organizers lead a crowd of about 1,500 people on July 20, 2020 in Portland. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images
A protester kicks a wall covered in graffitti
A protester kicks an entrance to the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 20 in Portland. Photo: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Go deeper: Rand Paul denounces use of federal force in Portland

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