Kaptur & 116 Members Demand Answers About Deployment of Unidentified Federal Law Enforcement Personnel and Ongoing Actions in Portland

July 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) sent a letter alongside 116 House Members in demanding information from Attorney General William Barr and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf about unidentified federal law enforcement personnel deployed in Portland, Oregon over the objections of state and local officials.


“What we are seeing in Portland and American cities across the U.S. is shocking and emblematic of a government deeply at odds with American values and the principals of democracy,” said Rep. Kaptur. “No one can afford to be silent in this situation. Unidentified federal officers in camouflage pulling protestors off the street and into un-marked, non-government vans and tear gassing peaceful demonstrators is horrific. It is a scene more likely played out under authoritarian dictatorships or decaying democracies. We need to find out who these men are and what agency they’re from. For the sake of our republic, there must be accountability.”


The Members wrote: “It is now apparent that no U.S. city or town will be safe from these dubious tactics and that the Washington, D.C. deployment may have been a dry run for deployment to other cities. Reports indicate that at least four federal law enforcement agencies have now deployed forces – including undercover officers - to Portland, Oregon to monitor and quell protests without coordination or communication with local officials or law enforcement.  These newly deployed officers are in camouflage uniforms with no badge or insignia denoting their agency or identity. As when they were deployed in Washington, D.C. last month, the federal officers in Portland are unidentifiable and therefore remain unaccountable for any violations of citizens’ constitutional rights. Portland is apparently not the last place citizens and public officials will encounter such deployments as suggested in a recently leaked Customs and Border Patrol memorandum dated July 1, 2020, which states that “resources [have been] deployed in several states.”


The Members continued: “This is not legitimate law enforcement under our Constitution but a shocking slide into authoritarianism and police state tactics. Every agent and every police-citizen encounter must be governed by the Constitution. But these new tactics are an outrageous assault on the liberties of the people and the police powers and political sovereignty of the states. The deployment of roving units of secret police under the control of the President is an absolute affront to the Bill of Rights, which vests inviolable civil rights and liberties in the people and core police powers in the states—not a tyrannical and overweening federal government.”


In addition to Rep. Kaptur, the letter was also signed by Reps. Raskin; Bonamici; Blumenauer; Carolyn B. Maloney; Peter A. DeFazio; Cedric L. Richmond; Donald S. Beyer Jr.; David N. Cicilline; Karen Bass; Terri A. Sewell; Juan Vargas; Jimmy Gomez; Jared Huffman; Frederica S Wilson; Joaquin Castro; Brian Higgins; Wm. Lacy Clay; Chellie Pingree; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Steve Cohen; Mike Thompson; Suzan K. DelBene; Eleanor Holmes Norton; James P. McGovern; Kathleen M. Rice; Madeleine Dean; Bonnie Watson Coleman; Ro Khanna; Anthony G. Brown; Bobby L. Rush; Brendan F. Boyle; Jesús G. "Chuy" García; Jerry McNerney; Rashida Tlaib; Dina Titus; Ilhan Omar; Sylvia R. Garcia; Dwight Evans; Jan Schakowsky; David E. Price; Kathy Castor; Ted Deutch; Veronica Escobar; Donald M. Payne, Jr.; Debbie Mucarsel-Powell; Jim Cooper; Gerald E. Connolly; Bill Foster; Katherine Clark; Jim Himes; Pramila Jayapal; Anna G. Eshoo; Donna E. Shalala; Joe Courtney; Lizzie Fletcher; Mike Doyle; Raja Krishnamoorthi; Jimmy Panetta; Joe Neguse; Gregory W. Meeks; Alan Lowenthal; Mark Takano; Mike Quigley; Scott H. Peters; Adriano Espaillat; Joseph P. Kennedy, III; Tom Malinowski; Stephen F. Lynch; David Trone; Mary Gay Scanlon; Salud O. Carbajal; Frank Pallone, Jr.; Mark Pocan; Judy Chu; Grace Meng; Zoe Lofgren; Brenda L. Lawrence; John Yarmuth; Peter Welch; Bradley S. Schneider; Mike Levin; Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr.; Doris Matsui; Nita M. Lowey; A. Donald McEachin; Angie Craig; Julia Brownley; Harley Rouda; Peter A. DeFazio; Alcee L. Hastings; Seth Moulton; G. K. Butterfield; C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger; Jackie Speier; Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Richard E. Neal; Ed Perlmutter; Ted W. Lieu; John B. Larson; Adam Smith; Bill Pascrell, Jr.; Maxine Waters; Darren Soto; Jahana Hayes; Marcia L. Fudge; Abigail D. Spanberger; Andy Kim; Al Lawson; Mikie Sherrill; Ann Kirkpatrick; Linda T. Sánchez; Daniel T. Kildee; Antonio Delgado; Ayanna Pressley; and Raul M. Grijalva.


A copy of the letter is available here.

 Photo credit: AP