PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The presence of federal officers from the Department of Homeland Security and US Customs and Border Patrol on the streets of Portland has sparked outrage from Oregon’s elected leaders.
The federal agents were seen by journalists snatching protesters off the streets in downtown Portland, putting them into unmarked vehicles and detaining them.
One freelance journalist who spoke with KOIN 6 News — and asked that his identity be protected — said he started seeing federal agents as long ago as 2 weeks in Portland. He witnessed one protester walking along near SW 4th and Salmon be detained by the feds.
“Suddenly an unmarked vehicle pulls up and it looks like a rental car or an SUV and suddenly you see like 4 what I assume are DHS agents get out of the vehicle,” the journalist said.
The officers were dressed in camouflage but had no identifying markers about what agency they were with, he said.
Portland attorney Kevin Sali told KOIN 6 News the federal agents are given “a pretty wide grant of authority” generally speaking.
“Even if you think of these agencies as having narrow or well defined functions, often the statutes that create them and give them the jurisdictions tend to be very broad,” Sali said. “And even those broad parameters tend to be interpreted broadly and leniently. Very often you will see a pretty wide grant of authority and discretion given to federal agents and their agencies.”
Gov. Kate Brown, Mayor Ted Wheeler, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici have called for investigations into the tactics and deployment of the federal agents into Portland.
US Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams has also called for an investigation into the tactics of the federal officers.
Brown admitted she doesn’t have the authority to order the troops to leave, though she has made it clear she does not want them here in Portland.
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