The Volokh Conspiracy

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Disturbing Reports from Portland


Portland has been a disorderly mess for some time now, but new allegations that unidentified federal officers in unmarked vans are snatching people off the street and whisking them away to undisclosed locations require prompt and full answers from the Trump administration.

From Oregon Public Radio:

Federal law enforcement officers have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters since at least July 14. Personal accounts and multiple videos posted online show the officers driving up to people, detaining individuals with no explanation of why they are being arrested, and driving off.

From the Washington Post follow-up:

Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. The federal officers who snatched him off the street as he was walking home from a peaceful protest did not tell him why he had been detained or provide him any record of an arrest, he told The Post. As far as he knows, he has not been charged with any crimes.

Videos from the streets of Portland are hardly comforting. As our own Orin Kerr notes:

If the reports are true, this is dangerous and inappropriate and should be stopped immediately.