Oregon’s attorney general Ellen Rosenblum warned Friday that clashes seen in Portland between protesters and federal agents who were dispatched to quell them, “could be happening in your city next.”
The cautionary comments, shared in an interview with The New York Times, come after Rosenblum failed to secure a restraining order on Friday afternoon against federal agents who reports say have been driving around in unmarked vehicles in camouflage fatigues and masks and taking people into custody without probable cause.
Rosenblum’s lawsuit cited the case of Mark Pettibone, a Portland man who said that he was pulled off the street into an unmarked vehicle and detained for questioning by unidentified agents while walking home from a protest on July 15. He was later released without charges.
A judge from the U.S. District Court in Portland blocked the lawsuit saying that the attorney general’s office did not not have standing to bring the case because Rosenblum had not demonstrated that the issue was “an interest that is specific to the state itself.”
“I find the State of Oregon lacks standing here and therefore deny its request for a temporary restraining order,” Judge Michael W. Mosman wrote in his ruling.
In a statement issued after the ruling, Rosenblum said: “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?”
Several other challenges are still under review by the courts, The Times said.
Jann Carlson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, said that while judge’s decision in the state’s lawsuit was “disappointing” federal agents “should not for a minute think their unconstitutional actions will go unanswered.” Carlson told TPM in an email that “the ACLU will be in court again to hold federal agents accountable for their unconstitutional attacks on the right to protest.”
The ACLU of Oregon has continued to take legal action amid the Portland protests, and succeeded in securing a restraining order Thursday that blocks federal agents from attacking or arresting journalists and legal observers.
Meanwhile videos continue to surface online that show agents using aggressive tactics against protesters. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) was tear-gassed on Wednesday night outside of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. Footage of agents swatting people with batons and firing flash grenades have also emerged. The Times also reported that a protester sustained serious injuries after being shot in the head with a crowd-control munition while standing on a city street outside the federal courthouse, where many protesters have rallied, demanding that federal agents leave town.
Earlier this week President Donald Trump announced that a “surge” of federal agents would be dispatched to stop crime and protect federal buildings. He told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday night that up to 75,000 agents would be deployed to American cities.
After telling Hannity, that “as you know” federal dispatch had to first be “invited in,” Trump later in the call appeared to reverse that statement.
“At some point we’re going to have to do something much stronger than being invited in,” Trump said.