The Feds Invade Portland

The Trump administration deployed more than 100 federal law enforcement officers to Portland to quell weeks of unrest. The administration claimed it was simply protecting a federal courthouse.


Most of the time in conversation, when libertarians warn about masked government agents snatching folks off the street in unmarked vans, people politely change the subject. This past July, reality caught up with our dystopian imaginations.

The Trump administration deployed more than 100 federal law enforcement officers from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Portland, Oregon, to quell weeks of unrest following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The administration claimed it was simply protecting a federal courthouse.

News reports and videos, though, showed something different. First, federal law enforcement officers, many of them from a Customs and Border Protection tactical unit, shot a protester in the head with a nonlethal munition, fracturing his skull. The man was hospitalized and required facial reconstruction surgery. Then videos emerged of anonymous federal agents in camouflage and body armor quite literally abducting protesters off the streets and dragging them into unmarked vehicles. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that one detainee was taken by federal authorities, interrogated, and then released about 90 minutes later with no charges.

The federal government has the authority to protect federal property, of course, but civil liberties groups and legal observers said the operation stretched the legal limits of that authority. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon called the street abductions and detainments "flat-out unconstitutional."

This operation may have been less contentious if Oregon officials had asked for help, but the feds were in Portland despite fierce opposition from local and state politicians. "We do not need or want their help," said Mayor Ted Wheeler.

The response from the Trump administration? Get used to it.

"I don't need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job," Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the DHS, said in a Fox News interview. "We're going to do that whether they like us there or not."

An August report from the Government Accountability Office found that Wolf and acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were both illegally appointed to their positions, which makes the Portland operation seem even more authoritarian.

The feds eventually reached an agreement with local officials and stood down. As of early September, there were still nightly clashes between protesters and Portland police. The situation in Portland is serious: Violence and property destruction seem to be escalating. But that's a problem for Portland to solve, not the feds.

NEXT: Brickbat: Stirred Up

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  1. American law enforcement invading an American city to enforce law? Something here doesn’t add up, like there’s a word in there that doesn’t belong.

    1. Was it “invading”? Because I have to admit, it seems pretty out of place.

      Portland is lucky that Trump is more restrained than Eisenhower. He sent the 101st Airborne when state and city leaders were violating the civil rights of citizens by refusing to protect them from mobs.

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    2. Feds invade try to save Portland.

      1. Who know who else invaded Poland?

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  2. Is CJ related to Eric Ciaramella? Inquiring minds want to know.

    Invade, my ass. The premise is utterly ridiculous.

    1. Remember when America invaded America, it was terrible.

      1. Technically the Confederates States of America invaded the United States of America.

        Democrats are the worse.

    2. Great question, xy

      Can’t be that many middle aged men with that unusual surname.

  3. What? By invading you mean enforcing the law?

  4. “The administration claimed it was simply protecting a federal courthouse.”

    Because it was simply protecting a federal courthouse.

    1. Dude, it’s not protecting the courthouse if they arrest people who tried to burn down the courthouse previously, while they aren’t *currently* trying to burn down the courthouse. Everyone knows that!

      Seriously, where does Reason even *find* these fucking clowns? Daily Kos?

      1. The purpose of journalism is to reinforce the Democratic Party’s talking points. The more strenuously you defend them, the better you are at journalism and the more awards you get.

  5. I seem to recall a similar time a Republican president sent forces to protect a Federal installation against the wishes of the locals. Now, it’s true that Fort Sumter was a military installation rather than a courthouse, but I would think the same principle would apply.

  6. Perhaps this writer and editor failed to notice during the past five months the past 5 months that Antifa anarchists have not only invaded, but taken over and destroyed much of downtown Portland.

    Reason used to advocate libertarianism, which supports free markets and free minds. Anarchy is the exact opposite.

    1. It really isn’t, but then, the Antifa scum aren’t anarchists, either. They’re just nihilists.

      If you’re interested, do a web search on “anarchocapitalism” or “market anarchism” for information on how the two are not mutually incompatible. I got to anarchism by just following libertarianism to the logical conclusion regarding the NAP.

      1. If you look how they behave when they assume any upper hand or local power like with the “autonomous” zones, they’re full on authoritarians. They’re definitely not anarchists. I wouldn’t really call them nihilists either because Marxism is a belief system. The destruction certainly has a nihilist look and feel but it has a purpose.

        1. The “Anarchists” did the same thing in Germany of the 1920s/30s. They fought Socialists and Communists for control of Germany.

          Of course they are not Anarchists because they want their form of tyranny to run things.

          Most people like Sarcasmic dont even know a real Anarchist but want to use anarchy to burn society down so Anarchyland will rise from the ashes.

          Its all lunacy. Americans get it so they reject anarchy because they would lose everything in the hopes some tyrant wont take over.

          1. No, I don’t think you understand individualist anarchism at all.

  7. Yeah, people in Oregon have no civil rights to be protected. If a mob of criminals want to destroy their property or beat them up over a hat or murder them and corrupt local officials encourage it, there’s nothing to be done. Just like in the south in the 50’s and 60’s. The feds had no right to interfere with local governments back then. There’s no document that gives Americans any rights to be protected from the mob.

    1. Yeah if the shit doesn’t stop pretty soon, it’s going to get ugly. I think if there wasn’t an election coming up it already would have.

      1. In Portland, it doesn’t matter–the residents there are nearly unanimous in support of Antifa’s activities, and those cells run the city the way the mob did in Vegas during the 50s-70s.

        It’s when you get outside the behavioral sink that things start to get dicey.

        IOW, Portlandia Delenda Est.

  8. 1st Amendment:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    The 1A does not protect people who riot, assault others, vandalize, and commit arson.

    The reason CJ that Democrats will lose this election is because more and more Americans are scared shitless of tyranny of Democrats and their Useful Idiots.

    1. Of course unreason is okay with rioters blocking everyone who needs to use the federal courthouse to redress their grievances.

      All that matters to Lefties is Anarchists and Lefties being able to commit crimes in places like Portland.

      Just like when Nixon won a landslide in 1972.

      1. Figures you idolize Nixon.

        1. He ended the Vietnam War when Democrats wouldnt.

          Notice how Nixon was pushed out for having operatives break into Democrat office in D.C. but Lefties tried to coup a duly elected President….crickets from the tyrants of Anarchism and Socialism.

          Nixon was a horrible President for multiple reasons. Obama, Bill Clinton, JFK were far worse Presidents for multiple reasons.

      2. The riots tended to be at night only. Was the courthouse still used during the day? Asking, because I honestly don’t know.

        1. Oh, so property only needs protection at night? Got it.

          1. It’s only wrong once it’s been notarized.

            1. That doesn’t make any sense. You are trying too hard.

          2. Jeez, dude, I asked a question.

  9. Is anyone surprised that the fascists here are quite ok with this use of federal force? Anyone?

    Libertarian rag my ass.

    1. The fascists would be the ones who are saying that if you don’t say their slogan, you will be punished. The ones who have looted, assaulted, and burned anyone with whom they disagree.

      Seriously, what has Trump DONE? Seriously. Look back on the past few years. Trump has riled people up, and he says a lot, but there’s relatively little in the way of action, and almost all of that was either Bush-style politics or foreign policy.

      To compare, it has been the Democrats who issued unconstitutional lockdown orders and are defying court orders to continue them. It has been the Democrats who have actively supported rioting and destruction. Texas had a few wild days and then everything was fine. It’s Oregon that has been people actively trying to burn down buildings. It was Washington that actually had a group turn several city blocks into an anarchist and racist area with enforced segregation and gun-toting guards. It was only after three deaths that police actually stopped it.

      1. But you don’t understand Ben.

        They call themselves “Anti-fascist” and claim that they are fighting “racism” and “fascism”. That means everything they do is justified.

        Robbing a Target? Fighting fascism.
        Soaking old women with gas and paint for defending their home? Fighting fascism.
        Burning down a black-owned dry cleaners? Fighting fascism.
        Destroying a federal courthouse? Fighting fascism.
        Starting a putsch in a München beerhall, and smashing the windows of Jewish shops on Kristallnacht? Fighting fascism.

        As long as you claim to be “Anti-fascist” and fighting “fascism you are in the right.

        Why can’t people understand this? It’s so simple.

        1. I get it. I’m also of the opinion that reasoning is superior to name calling at getting people to change their views

    2. Poor Lefties…. who say fuck you to people who want to use their businesses to make money and use the courts to hear legal disputes between parties.

      Democrats support tyranny and violence of Socialism.
      Republicans support freedom and non-violent protests.

      It’s why Trump and Republicans will win big.

    3. To be fair to Reason, the commenters here who lionize Trump for sending in the Federal cops also don’t like Reason much.

    4. If local governments turn a blind eye to massive violations of rights…what would YOU do?

  10. see how much hatred this article stirs up

    1. We already knew that unreason staffers were propagandists.

    2. If a city in Alabama were allowing “protests” to occur nightly in say a neighborhood full of immigrant Somalis and were burning and looting said neighborhood, you would think the feds were wrong for stepping in? If you wouldn’t, and I think it is a very good guess reason would not, then you have no leg to stand on objecting to the feds intervening here. The city of Portland is refusing to maintain order and protect it’s citizens from rampaging mobs. If that is not a violation of people’s rights, nothing is.

    3. Yeah, it’s not a completely one sided article that completely ignored the violence arson and rioting that went on for months previously to anything he’s then misrepresenting. Just a totally fair minded account Pravda would be proud of.

  11. The feds eventually reached an agreement with local officials and stood down. As of early September, there were still nightly clashes between protesters and Portland police. The situation in Portland is serious: Violence and property destruction seem to be escalating. But that’s a problem for Portland to solve, not the feds.

    I think reason finally admits here that “protests” are really just violent riots and looting. That is a start I guess.

    Yeah, it is Portland’s to solve. When the city and state government’s refuse to solve it and refuse to enforce the law or protect the rights of their citizens, it becomes a federal problem. To say otherwise, is to say that states have the sovereignty to violate the federally protected rights of their citizens and there is nothing the feds or anyone else can do about it.

    That is complete bullshit and reason knows it. If a city were allowing violent mobs to terrorize immigrants or gays, reason would be screaming it’s head off demanding federal intervention. It only changes it’s position here because it sympathizes with the rioters in Portland and would not sympathize with mobs terrorizing groups reason cares about like gays and immigrants.

    1. The 1st Amendment does not protect these criminals so they need Propagandists like unreason staff to spin the truth.

      It’s not working with most Americans.

    2. The only way you’ll ever be happy is if the government sets a curfew with a “shoot on sight” order.

      1. I will be happy when violent mobs are not burning down businesses and attacking people for having the wrong politics. What about that state of affairs bothers you so much? Are you okay with people being assaulted and beaten up because a gang of thugs thinks they are a “Nazi”? That is what has been happening in Portland for months. And the city refuses to stop it. So, why do you think the feds should not?

        1. Do you still beat your wife?

          1. Are you capable of answering questions? Do you deny the violence that has been occurring and the city’s unwillingness to let the police stop it? Or do you think the violence is okay?

            1. Is the sky blue? Is water wet?

              Why do you seek validation, and why are you so hostile to those who don’t explicitly state the obvious?

              1. Why do you evade answering his question?

                1. Hey Bitch’s Bitching, why must I answer the obvious?

                  1. Still evading, Tony Sarc.

                    1. Hey Bitch’s Bitching. Is water wet? What? You’re evading the question? You’re really so stupid that you’re refuse to admit that water is wet? What is wrong with you?

      2. I will be happy when Trump gets reelected AND all the criminals rioting in the streets and violating the civil rights from their local government positions are arrested and tried….

        …in federal courts outside Oregon.

        Or we just amend the Constitution and deport these ex-American Communist criminals to Communist China.

      3. I will be happy when Portland says you will not be procecuted for self defence, and you will be procecuted for theft arson robbery rape, etc

    3. Remember when teh feds were taking over police stations in places Obama didn’t like. i don’t remember if Reason had a view on that one

  12. So, this story is way behind the times.

    But I find it funny how a story like this, talking about something that happened a while ago, makes its way to Reason, yet there is nothing about Brennan briefing Obama about Clinton’s plans to tie Trump to Russia or that CIA director Haspel was slow rolling release of documents to protect the CIA.

    I can’t wait for the day when TDS leaves our collective system and we can all get back to actually having morals, ideals, beliefs, and convictions rather than either fighting for or against Trump.

    1. The FBI and CIA are great because Orange Man Bad. And hey, they would never do that stuff to anyone else. This was just a special and needed circumstance because Orange Man Bad or something.

    2. This happens every month- articles from the previous print issue get reposted to the web site.

      1. The byline says that this article is from the November issue. Has the paper version of that already been distributed?

        1. Monthly magazines usually publish well before the date on the cover.

  13. How did HyR (and for all I can tell, the magazine) turn from supporting a tendency within the deep (but thin) libertarian movement into an outlet that concern-trolls libertarians? Was it planned out of somebody’s strength, or just proceed by default out of someone’s weakness? And don’t say it’s all a reaction to Trump, because we saw this start a few years earlier; it’s just accelerated with Trump.

    1. In the 20th Century, it was usually Reason that was skeptical when other libertarian centers seemed to want to be trendy, opportunistic. So if it can happen here, it can happen anywhere.

    2. The staff slowly changed over to leftists looking for a job at a mainstream liberal publication. Reason used to have guys like Tim Kavanaugh who were pretty level headed libertarians. Slowly that changed and you ended up with a staff full of people like Sullivan and Shika.

      The thing that is striking about reason is not that they go off the Libertarian reservation occasionally. Any good publication would and should. It is that when it does, it always goes to the right. There are tons of examples of reason supporting things that are not particularly libertarian because they are too far left. Yet, there isn’t a single example of them making that mistake by supporting something that is too far right. The mistakes all go one way.

      1. That can’t explain it, because the same staff changed their writing. Has Jacob Sullum been a closet leftist for decades?

        And now Britschgi is making it bad that Trump is stiffing landlords and renters on a bailout.

    3. Libertarians tend to support Trump, so Libertarianism must be burned to the ground.

      It’s very telling that the old guard at unreason were never really Libertarians but where hiding as LINOs. It’s how us Libertarians spotted all the Anarchist and Lefty twists to stories.

      Americans having control over their national border is very Libertarian but notice unreason twisted that issue toward open borders and that non-Americans have a RIGHT to enter the USA.

      With Trump, Lefties and their Useful Idiots at unreason cannot hold their tongues anymore and their true beliefs come out.

    4. Complete WAG, Roberta, but here goes…

      The primary patron of this magazine and CATO, has decided to get a lot more hands on regarding their editorial direction and focus. His goal is to promote policies that lower the cost of goods and services inputs for he and his colleagues’ various commercial activities. Everything else is secondary.

      So, increased immigration, to full open borders, increases the labor supply within the US, and consequently lowers wages. Tariffs on China and the EU raise the prices of raw materials and goods needed for industrial inputs. Those tariffs, cause retaliatory tariffs that make exported goods less competitive. Accordingly, the magazine is against any US tariffs whatsoever. Trump appeals to his base by restricting immigration, both legal and illegal, and also has enacted protectionist trade policies.

      Therefore, the magazine takes an anti-Trump focus, and anything that weakens the Trump Administration, or hastens his removal in January 2021, is to be encouraged.

      1. Except that Trump offered our trading partners free trade at the G7 Summit. They rejected the offer by Trump.

        Hmm…must be something else at play here.

        Maybe something Lefties crave- Crony capitalism, Fascism, Socialism, elitism, propaganda….

      2. Gray_Jay is very likely correct.

        He who pays the piper calls the tune.

        1. But they didn’t call this tune 40 years ago, say. Did the opportunity not present?

          1. Today it’s all about globalism, and subservience to China in exchange for feudal wealth and power domestically.

      3. Maybe it’s because David died and Charles lives on. Nah, the timing doesn’t fit.

    5. The articles are written by Chinese laborers and/or bots. Reason editors/contributors correct for tone/language before publishing, if that. It’s not inconceivable that some of the staff don’t even do that much work. Simply putting their name on the byline and nothing else.

  14. Nancy Rommellman described it best:

    “Strategically what they’re doing is, they’re forcing a dilemma action. A dilemma action is when you put your opponent in a no-win situation. Your enemy has to react. If they don’t react, they look weak; if they do react, they have to react in a certain way where it looks like it’s an overreaction.”

    The feds, regardless of their intent and actual reactions, fell right into this; of course you have to have a propaganda wings [aka MSM] to get the right word out.

    1. I disagree. This is water carrying. It’s like saying if I find out where you keep your guns, smash in your front door, leave your kids, your jewelry, and your other posessions alone and only try to destroy your firearms, I’ve forced a dilemma action because I was only trying to destroy your instruments of death. When in reality, I kicked in your front door and was trying to destroy your property and there is/was no dilemma except in the minds of the most devout koolaid drinkers/peddlers.

      1. It’s a false dilemma. That is, there is only a dilemma if you think that violence perpetrated against property isn’t violence or even a crime.

  15. Although I oppose many of Trump’s non libertarian policies (e.g. One Nation Under God, anti-abortion, cannabis prohibition, War on Drugs, etc.), Trump is far more libertarian than Biden, Harris, Schumer, Pelosi, Sanders, Cuomo, Cortez, etc.

    1. And that is why so many otherwise seemingly intelligent, thoughtful, liberty loving pro Constitution and otherwise generally well meaning people are going to vote for him.

      Deplorable, irredemable, and bitter clinging slack jaws be damned.

      1. That’s a problem with the two-party system. Sometimes you have to vote for the lesser of the two evils.

        Going between Trump, whose a jerk, petty, and I don’t like all his policies, and the current Democratic party, which is actively supporting violent riots and unconstitutionally extending lockdowns permanently. Putting out Biden despite his known corruption and serial molestation of women.

        Worse, the hypocrisy. Trump bragged about women throwing themselves at him, and the media feinted in horror. However, Biden was so bad that the Secret Service cancelled all their traditional parties due to the number of their wives and daughters he groped at them. Yet, people genuinely voted for him in the primary due to being of “superior moral character”

      2. And team left doesn’t get this at all. They try to get Bernie-level lefties to tolerate Biden by calling it a strategic move, but insist that any consideration of Trump involves hero-worship.

        The idea that anti-authoritarian folks hold their nose and vote Trump because they look like Big Brother never enters their minds

  16. Riots and crimes are still going on there. Read your own reporting.

  17. Reason, you need to stop taking the side of barbarian thugs who loot, pillage, and burn other people’s property. They are not “protesters” and there are no genuine protesters there.

  18. I admit I first read this headline as “The Feds Invade Poland.”

    You know who else invaded Poland?

    1. The Pope invaded Poland; made ’em shake at the knees!

  19. “dystopian imaginations”, indeed

  20. “The Feds Invade Portland”
    About time!
    Even as a libertarian you can support the Feds in Portland.
    First: Do no harm. The rioters are doing harm.
    Second: You rights end where mine begin, my rights end where yours begin.
    They sure as hell are trampling on a lot of peoples rights.
    Penalty, tax them at 95% of their gross income for the next 20 years, they will learn to love socialism then. Taxation isn’t just theft, it is retribution!

  21. “Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that one detainee was taken by federal authorities, interrogated, and then released about 90 minutes later with no charges.”

    And what would you prefer they do?
    Take him out back and shoot him?
    They either realized they got the wrong guy or didn’t have enuff to hold him.

  22. When govt does not protect your life, liberty or property it is by definition illegal and even if duly elected the representatives should be stripped of power by the people..in this case by the Federal Govt. Oregon signed up to the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights when it joined the union…when the mayor and bolshevik gov refused to project their citizens, the Federal Govt did and should send in force to protect citizens…..period..

    Any libertarian who does not support federal troops going into Portland is well…a bolshevik

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