In the midst of the continued unrest that had followed the George Floyd incident, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed several lawsuits across the country against multiple law enforcement agencies in response to what they characterize as “attacks against protesters and media personnel.”
The group also sued President Donald Trump, along with various other officials for the use of tear gas against protesters outside the White House earlier this month.
And as recently as yesterday, the ACLU of Oregon filed a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) for their actions in defending a Federal buildings in Portland. In this instance, the ACLU states that the two agencies wrongfully and maliciously used tear gas, rubber bullets, and acoustic weapons against peaceful protesters; the suit was filed on behalf of what they term “legal observers and local journalists.”
Vera Eidelman, an ACLU staff attorney summed up the organizations stance by stating “This is not law and order. This is lawlessness. The ACLU will not let the government respond to protests against police brutality with still more brutality. We will continue to hold law enforcement at all levels of government accountable, just as we have nationwide.” “What is happening in Portland is an unconstitutional nightmare,”
Through their court filings, the ACLU successfully persuaded a federal judge to issue an order preventing local police agencies from dispersing, arresting, and using physical force against journalists or legal observers through Oct. 30, the lawsuit was just amended to add the USMS and DHS; there has been no modification of the original order as of yet.
In support of the ACLU’s actions, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote on Twitter: “A peaceful protester in Portland was shot in the head by one of Donald Trump’s secret police,”. “Now Trump and Chad Wolf are weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence on the streets of my hometown because they think it plays well with right-wing media.”
Additionally, Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown called the federal presence in Oregon “political theater” by President Trump that has “nothing to do with public safety.”
Not to be left out, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wrote on Twitter: ”I thought we’d already covered this after the attacks in Lafayette Square: the US government should not be using unidentified federal officers as a secret police force to terrorize US citizens & violate their constitutional rights. This is outrageous,”
In a response from the US Government, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf accused Portland politicians of enabling the “mob” of protesters for six weeks, and he posted a lengthy timeline of the damage caused by what he termed “violent anarchists.” He further stated ”While the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) respects every American’s right to protest peacefully, violence and civil unrest will not be tolerated” and “Violent anarchists have organized events in Portland over the last several weeks with willful intent to damage and destroy federal property, as well as injure federal officers and agents. These criminal actions will not be tolerated.”