Judge denies restraining order against feds in Portland

2020 Protests

Protests have raged in Portland for nearly two months since the death of George Floyd

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A federal judge on Friday denied a request from the Oregon attorney general seeking a temporary restraining order against federal officers in Portland.

In court documents obtained by KOIN 6 News, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman found the state of Oregon “lacks standing” in its attempt to limit federal agents’ efforts in the state’s most populous city.

The attorney general’s restraining order request sought restrictions, such as requiring federal officers to identify themselves before making an arrest and explain to a person why they were being detained. It also sought to block any arrests that lacked probable cause.

“It is not unusual, following major protests, for some of the people involved to allege that the police crossed a line—a constitutional line—in the course of their interactions,” stated Mosman. “It is also common for these interactions to result in lawsuits, with protesters contending the police violated their First and Fourth Amendment rights and seeking redress by money damages and injunctive relief. There is a well established body of law paving the way for such lawsuits to move forward in federal court. This is not such a lawsuit. It is a very different case, a highly unusual one with a
a particular set of rules.”

The decision follows another night of unrest in which federal agents arrested seven people and clashed with protesters who lobbed fireworks toward the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, started fires and shined lasers into the eyes of officers.

Protests have raged in Portland for nearly two months since the death of George Floyd.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum shared the following statement with KOIN 6 on Friday:

“This week we asked the United States District Court for the District of Oregon to grant a temporary restraining order relating to the issue of forcible detention of Oregon residents by federal agents sent to Portland for the alleged purpose of protecting federal property. The stakes in this case are high, and I am disappointed that Judge Mosman did not rule in favor of a TRO and found instead that we lacked standing to bring the case in the first place. I believe all Oregonians have a right to know which federal law enforcement agencies are policing our streets, and why they are detaining peaceful protesters.

“In last Monday’s two-hour hearing, the judge expressed concern with the legality of the federal law enforcement tactics we are seeking to stop.  While today the court declined to issue an immediate order putting a stop to those tactics, we are, nevertheless, hopeful these abuses will stop and no other Oregonians will be subject to them or to the chilling effect they have on the right to engage in peaceful protest. 

“As I argued to the court at the hearing, these are extraordinary times, and very extraordinary circumstances. Ultimately, our goal was to ensure our people’s state and federal constitutional rights are protected. We want our cities to be safe, and we do not want our residents to live in fear of a police-state where people are grabbed off the street by unidentified armed men in unmarked cars and taken away—with no explanation.

“While I respect Judge Mosman, I would ask this question: If the state of Oregon does not have standing to prevent this unconstitutional conduct by unidentified federal agents running roughshod over her citizens, who does? Individuals mistreated by these federal agents can sue for damages, but they can’t get a judge to restrain this unlawful conduct more generally. Today’s ruling suggests that there may be no recourse on behalf of our state, and if so that is extremely troubling. 

“I want to thank our Oregon Department of Justice Trial Team including Steve Lippold and Sheila Potter for their extraordinary efforts in a short timeframe. We will continue to seek ways to fight to ensure the rights of every Oregonian to peacefully protest are preserved.” 

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