From ‘day-arrests’ to leaf blowers, Portland protesters find new ways to stand up to federal agents

Portland, Ore. – Life has been a series of adjustments for protesters in Portland as they clash overnight with federal agents.

“We got out here wearing T-shirts and rolling hula-hoops and stuff, and they started gassing us, so we came back with the breathalysers, and they started shooting at us, so we were comfortable back. Come, and he hit the target. ” Head, so we started wearing helmets, and now they call us terrorists, ”said Mac Smiff, a local black organizer in Portland. “Who is increasing it? It is not us. “

Protests in Portland have been going on for two months, but the situation intensified when federal agents – Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection Department and US Marshals Service – were stationed in the city starting the weekend of July 4.

Since that time, agents have used tear gas, pepper spray and shot “less lethal” silence, at times indiscriminately, in crowds. The city saw the largest turnout of protests this past weekend, when 5,000 people gathered in and around the Mark O’Hatfield US Courthouse, heavily guarded by federal agents.

As the nights change into weeks and months, protests have developed. The Wall of Moms appeared last week, wearing yellow clothes and holding sunflowers, attaching weapons and creating a physical barrier separating protesters – some, their own children – from federal officials. The next night, he accompanied the Wall of Dads, tearing the leaf blower to bring back tear gas to federal authorities.

Not knowing whether they would be warned before the tear gas filled the air, some protesters prepared a spray filled with gas masks and sprays.

Mark O. in Downtown Portland on July 27, 2020. Demonstrator in Hatfield federal courtyard.Spencer Plot / Getty Images

At one point, Marines veteran and Protector India Vine thought it would start raining at midnight as he wore his gas mask. It turns out, what density was it to be pepper spray from federal agents.

“My skin started burning. Wein said that before the federal authorities do this, and they move to a point that is not necessary. “I know there is a crowd control strategy, and that is not what is happening. You don’t need to deploy 20 or 30 canisters of tear gas … and they don’t care who they are collecting. “

Weapon agents in heavy riot gear have interchanged with protesters, who have made their defenses and shields, including helmets and body armor labeled “press”, to order federal agents to arrest journalists after the ban was ordered Or was prevented from attacking and carrying out a legal attack. Supervisors.

Jayla Lindseth, a black guard, urges people to come to the protests with at least a few other friends who can help protect each other and “de-arrest” them.

“When I say de-arrest, I mean if you see your friend holding you [by officers]Take them back, ”Lindseth advised. “We are fighting for change here.”

While many have campaigned a nonviolent response to the use of force by federal agents, others are spewing fire and combating mortar-style fireworks above a fence that agents have placed around the federal courthouse Have erected.

“Yes, some people are throwing rocks and bricks and bottles of water and fireworks. But they are a small, small part of the people here to protest, ”said Paul Svortz, one of the sea veterans standing with the Walls of Vets. “These are a handful of thousands of people, and you don’t judge thousands based on the actions of a handful of people.”

Federal police arrest a keeper as they face a mob in front of federal court in Portland, Ore. On July 26, 2020.Spencer Plot / Getty Images

Portland’s Transportation Bureau on Tuesday issued a cease-fire order calling federal agents to remove the fence, alleging that it was planted illegally and that it obstructs the city’s public authority. The agency said it has already started assessing a maximum fine of $ 500 for every 15 minutes, with the fence obstructing the road, which is already about $ 200,000 in penalties.

The Trump administration deployed an unwarranted and apparently unwanted federal response to the city to protest demonstrations against police brutality in the wake of the murder of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

The agents, wearing a similar symbol in many colors, make it difficult to identify which agency they are working for, accusing them of highly abusive action against the protesters, according to a lawsuit that several nonprofit organizations , Including Protect Democracy, do not kill Portland. And the Wall of Moms, filed on behalf of the protesters on Monday.

The complaint alleges that federal agents surrounded their border beyond protecting federal property with pepper balls and flash bang explosives and similar other tactics.

The presence of federal agents has been heavily criticized not only by protesters but also by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has repeatedly asked Trump to remove them.

This week, Wheeler called for an “urgent meeting” with the Department of Homeland Security to discuss a “cease-fire”.

The Department of Homeland Security officials have not returned a request for comment on that meeting.

Both the Department of Homeland Security and the Marshall Services Department have said they are already identifying officers to replace or complement potential agents in Portland.

As of Wednesday, at least 114 federal officials were known in the city, court-filed by the government.

Attorney General William Barr weighed in on the use of federal force in Portland during his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday.

He said, “After the death of George Floyd, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to create needless destruction and destruction on innocent victims.” “The current situation in Portland is an example.”

Barr said he had to increase federal presence in the city in an effort to “protect federal works and federal buildings”.

Meanwhile, the obsession is becoming more fierce for protesters who have been demonstrating for days and even weeks.

“I” It’s so tired. I am very tired. I am sleep deprived because I am a single mom and I work full time and I have to spend my nights with you because I can’t sit in my street and say, “Black Life Matter,” a woman, Monday The night of, we wore a signature yellow T-shirt with the Wall of Moms. “Black lives matter, that’s why we’re here. We’re not here because of some d– building. We don’t care about the building, we don’t care about your stupidity, we care about the black people.”

Maur Barrett and David Douglas reported from Safia Samee Ali from Portland and Chicago.

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