Reason Roundup

Feds Send Outside Agitators To Escalate Conflict in Portland

Plus: How H-1B visa restrictions cost U.S. jobs, a woman sues the British health service over hormone blockers, and more...


Clampdown in the Northwest. In Oregon this past weekend, federal agents fired tear gas into a group of moms, including one pregnant woman, who were peacefully gathering to demand police reform. They also pummeled the Portland crowd with pepper bombs, according to those on the scene and a plethora of video.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents and U.S. marshals dressed in military gear and brandishing large weapons have been stationed in Portland since around the start of the month, per an executive order from President Donald Trump. The feds are allegedly there to protect national monuments and guard against potential domestic terrorism.

Instead, this deliberately intimidating gaggle of outside "law enforcement" officers has been agitating peacefully assembled people who are merely exercising their constitutional rights. This has included shooting one man directly in the head with an impact munition of some sort (sending him to the hospital and necessitating facial reconstruction surgery) and, reportedly, forcing protesters into unmarked vans.

According to an internal Homeland Security memo, "federal agents facing backlash for their militarized approach to Portland were not specifically trained in riot control or mass demonstrations," The New York Times reports.

That doesn't bode well for the idea that they were sent in with mitigation in mind.

Despite federal agent actions last week, large Portland protests continued over the weekend…

…and so did federal agents acting in unnecessarily hostile and abusive ways:

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told CNN on Sunday that "they're not wanted here, we haven't asked them here, in fact we want them to leave." He continued:

What I want to do is raise awareness nationally. This could happen in your city. And what we're seeing is a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government, by a Trump admin that's falling in the polls. This is a direct threat to our democracy.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has suggested the feds' presence was a "deliberate effort to provoke." She told The Washington Post "that her contacts with Trump administration officials about the situation had convinced her that 'they are not interested in problem solving,' and this has 'nothing to do with public safety.'"

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week sought a temporary restraining order against federal agents stationed in Portland. (Read the ACLU motion here.)

And Oregon's Department of Justice is suing the DHS, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service. The lawsuit, filed in federal court on Saturday, alleges that "they seized and detained Oregonians without probable cause," explains Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.

Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley say they'll be introducing legislation to address the situation. "When I get back to DC next week, I will be introducing an amendment to the defense bill with @RonWyden to stop the Trump administration from sending its paramilitary squads onto America's streets," tweeted Merkley on Saturday. "We won't let these authoritarian tactics stand."

It's nice to see some lawmakers actually attempting to use their power to stop this, instead of simply trying to score Twitter points with spurious allegations that libertarians aren't freaking out enough.


A British woman who was given hormone blockers as a teenager is suing the U.K.'s National Health Service. "Keira Bell said the care she received for gender dysphoria, a condition where a person experiences distress due to a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity, steered her towards medical treatment," reports Sky News:

Ms Bell, who used to identify as a boy, was 15 when she went to the Tavistock Centre in London. She said after "roughly three sessions" she started receiving hormone blockers.

Eight years later, and after undergoing surgery, Ms Bell is de-transitioning to return to a woman.

Ms Bell wants clinicians to do more to explore the reasons a young person changes gender before they are treated. She believes that during treatment, priority needs to be given to a person's "biological sex as much as their gender identity".


Immigration restrictions kill U.S. jobs: 


• Some potentially good news on the COVID-19 front…

• …and more bad news: "A rare but serious and potentially deadly inflammatory syndrome believed to be associated with the coronavirus has now been identified in 15 children in Los Angeles County," the Los Angeles Times reports.

• "CEOs have often been ahead of cops and politicians on gay rights": Richard Morrison reviews the book The Queering of Corporate America.