Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that demonstrators warned each other of federal officers in camouflage grabbing people off the street, with some driving in unmarked non-government rental cars. These same federal officers were told by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler earlier this week that the city does "not need or want their help." According to OPB, federal law enforcement has been employing this tactic since around July 14.
It is suspected that these federal officers arrived as Donald Trump has warned they plan to "quell" protests near the feral courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center. So far, federal officers have charged at least 13 individuals with crimes related to the protests. One demonstrator has since been hospitalized with skull fractures after he was shot in the face by a federal officer using a "less lethal" round on July 11. While these officers, from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection's BORTAC, were sent to the city to supposedly protect federal property, there have been reports of arrests in locations far from such property.
“Feds are driving around, grabbing people off the streets,” said protester Conner O'Shea in a video, explaining that one of his friends did not manage to escape federal officers pursuing them in unmarked vans. “I didn’t do anything fucking wrong. I’m recording this. I had to let somebody know that this is what happens.” His friend, Mark Pettibone, said that he was put into a cell and was not informed why he was being arrested, but he was later released after 90 minutes.
"This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety," said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown after federal officers arrived in the city this week, the Willamette Week reports. "The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government."
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf landed in Portland on Thursday, and he has since refused requests from both Brown and Mayor Wheeler to withdraw security forces from the city. "I told acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets," Brown added. "His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm's way. This, coming from the same president who used tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters in Washington, D.C., to engineer a photo opportunity. ... Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa."
See reactions to the worrying arrests in Portland below.