28August 1, 2020
Across the United States Increases
in Size and Determination
Assaults by Federal Police Forces Fail to Intimidate and Suppress Revolt
Wall of Moms at the front of demonstration in Portland, July 29, 2020.
Secure Restraining Order and
Calls to Sanction Federal Forces
• To Get Out of Jail, Arrested Persons
Must Agree Not to Protest
Snatch and Grab Operations Practiced
During Toronto G20 Protests
• Photo Review
Resistance Across the United
States Increases in Size and Determination
Portland, July 25, 2020
As federal police forces remained in Portland,
Oregon in the last week of July and are also being sent to Chicago,
Seattle, Albuquerque, Kansas City and likely other cities, the broad
resistance movement that has persisted now for more than two months
following the racist police killing of George Floyd responded with yet
larger and more determined actions. Demonstrations in support of
Portland and demands against racist police brutality and impunity and
for equality took place in many cities and towns the weekend of July
25-26. These included Oakland and Los Angeles, California; Chicago,
Illinois; Cleveland, Ohio; Boston, Massachusetts; New York City, New
York; Louisville, Kentucky; Omaha, Nebraska; Richmond, Virginia;
Aurora, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
Actions have continued since then in many
places, including Portland where many thousands of people are nightly
standing up to tear gassing, rubber bullets, flash bang grenades and
other violence by heavily armed federal, state and local police forces.
A Wall of Vets is also a prominent feature of the resistance movement
in Portland. KPTV out of Portland reports:
"The Wall of Vets says their mission and message
is simple: they support peaceful protesters and are standing as a
shield between them and those they say are violating those rights.
"We’ve seen the Wall of Moms, the Wall
of Dads, and now, the Wall of Vets – a group of U.S. military
veterans standing together as a human wall to protect peaceful
“We’re here as progressive
vets and we haven’t had a voice before and I think
we’re unified now to stand for what we feel is
right,” said Tessa Terry, a veteran and the chapter organizer
for the Wall of Vets in Portland.
She says focus needs to be turned back to the
Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s upsetting to see
what’s happening to the citizens and even more upsetting that
the federal troops are here,” she said.
Her husband LeShan Terry, who is also a veteran,
joins her and the other veterans out at the protests every night.
“It’s to show that
it’s not violent on our side and we’re being
agitated against and the Wall of Veterans who stand at parade rest is
showing that you are shooting at us and we are not violent,”
The two along with their fellow veterans have been
taking the tear gas for more than 50 nights."
Wall of Vets, standing between police and
protesters. Behind them (second photo row) stands the Wall of Moms.
The conflicts between federal and state
authorities continue to express themselves. Oregon's Governor Kate
Brown said some federal forces would begin withdrawing July 30, such as
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Border Patrol's
special tactical team BORTAC, but despite appeals for their removal,
many others will remain. Department of Homeland Security head Chad Wolf
said, "The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented
federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that
the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no
longer be attacked."
July 29 saw the largest deployment of federal
forces against demonstrators in Portland, including not only at the
federal courthouse but marching in from two directions a block away.
The federal forces were met by more than 5,000 people -- youth,
workers, moms, veterans -- all calling for an end to the federal and
local police violence and for their demands for change that favours the
people to be fulfilled. Their level of defiance has also increased as
means are developed to contend with the policing agencies.
"We came out here dressed in T-shirts and twirling
Hula-Hoops and stuff, and they started gassing us, so we came back with
respirators, and they started shooting us, so we came back with vests,
and they started aiming for the head, so we started wearing helmets,
and now they call us terrorists," one organizer said. Hockey sticks and
tennis rackets have been brought into use to swat tear gas canisters
back over the fence, umbrellas to ward off the gas and leaf blowers to
While the people face brutal violence with nightly
tear gassing, armed federal forces in riot gear and masks are fully
protected behind an eight-foot black metal fence erected on July 22.
All of this violence is meant to disperse and intimidate people, and
also disrupt efforts by demonstrators to themselves affirm human rights
to food, health care and to conscience and assembly.
"We're not holding our city hostage. We're saying
we are the city," one organizer pointed out.
Breonna Taylor Memorial Medical
In Portland, the people have their own trained
medics, including their own emergency vehicle: the "Breonna Taylor
Memorial Medical Utility Vehicle" -- named for the Black emergency
medical technician (EMT) killed by Louisville, Kentucky police earlier
this year. It is a MASH unit on wheels, built in the back of a used
truck by a collective of Portland nurses and EMTs. It is equipped with
a defibrillator, helmets and bottles of saline solution and water to
counter teargas. The collective decided to start a mobile clinic that
could park at the edge of protests so they could render aid to those
injured within minutes and, if necessary, drive them quickly to a
nearby hospital or ambulance, something they have done repeatedly for
those hit by rubber bullets. Medical care is provided for free, a
demand of demonstrators all across the country, especially given the
COVID-19 crisis and government failures on that front.
Seattle and other cities have also established
such emergency mobile medical services.
In addition, the people have organized for food to
be provided for free, all secured through their own efforts. Portland's
Riot Ribs, for example, with a dozen grills and regular community
donations has provided burgers and ribs throughout the actions -- and
repeatedly withstood the efforts of both federal and local police to
disrupt them and shut them down. They have withstood being tear gassed
and having their food and equipment confiscated.
There is also the Black Lives Matter snack van
which provides food bars, water bottles and apples -- all donated --
for protesters to take free of charge. People are also providing
laptops to help people filing for unemployment payments. "Circles of
chairs" have been set up devoted to "free conversations," discussions
and to provide sanctuary to artists and muralists. Demonstrators
describe them as a sanctuary of love and compassion.
"When you get to the energy out here, the things
they're chanting, it makes me emotional, it makes me feel wanted and
appreciated and respected. It makes me feel like, for the first time in
my life, I matter more than just physically," one African American said.
People across the
country are organizing for yet more united actions, undaunted by both
federal and local police violence and efforts to criminalize them.
There is growing consciousness that existing governing arrangements at
all levels are both dysfunctional and harmful. In Portland this is
indicated by the agreement to have state police now work under federal
police while also taking command over local police. Such a command
structure is what the federal government is after while it has no
intention of stopping the violence of police forces at all levels.
But the millions of people in action enjoy broad
and growing support. They are demanding a new direction for the
country, one that favours the majority, not the self-serving private
interests of a tiny minority. The resistance is giving expression to
the necessity of the times, for people's empowerment and a people's
democracy and there is every indication that it will persist.
Wall of Nurses gathers for July 25, 2020 protest.
It is this united effort and striving for
arrangements that affirm the human right to be and the stand that
fighting as one for the rights of all is the way forward that most
frightens ruling elites and why they have unleashed so many policing
agencies to wipe it out. It is clear to all that the brutality and
violence against the people are unleashed repeatedly, wave upon wave,
to exhaust the people and wipe the resistance out. But they cannot wipe
the resistance out because the will of the people to be prevails. This
great moment of reckoning has within it the emergence of a democracy of
the people's own making, where they decide what takes place, not those
who govern from above and want the people to submit to conditions and
an authority which are unacceptable to them.
Part of the resistance movement in the United
States is to file lawsuits against local and federal policing agencies
for their excessive use of force and attacks on journalists and legal
observers. Organizations in Portland recently filed a lawsuit against
Portland police and federal forces.
On July 23, U.S. District Court Judge Michael
Simon barred federal law enforcement officers from using force against
journalists and legal observers. These observers have been documenting
demonstrations and the excessive use of force by police, including the
use of tear gas, pepper balls and spray, rubber bullets and "bean bag"
munitions -- both cause serious harm and can be deadly -- beatings, and
abductions. The temporary, 14-day restraining order also said
reporters, photographers and legal observers were exempt from any
directives issued to the general public to disperse from areas where
protests are taking place. Judge Simon is also requiring that a paper
or digital copy of his restraining order be provided to every federal
law enforcement officer and agent in Portland, as well as to all who
may be sent to the city in the future. He can also extend the order
The judge had previously issued a similar order to
Portland police as part of the same lawsuit and has now extended it to
federal forces -- something supported by city officials. A lawyer for
the city said "federal forces have been moving off federal property and
they've been using force that the records [show] was not proportionate
and not justified under the circumstances."
The more general use of excessive force by local
and federal forces was not addressed by the ruling. Another lawsuit,
still pending, addresses the "overly abusive action" by federal forces
On July 28, the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) Oregon, acting on behalf of the alternative newspaper Portland
Mercury and 10 individual plaintiffs including journalists
and legal activists, said federal law enforcement officers in Portland
were violating the terms of the restraining order. The ACLU said that
videos, photographs and witness accounts showed that federal officers
shot three people, clearly identified as legal observers, in the head,
neck and chest with rubber bullets or bean bag munitions. Federal
forces also "purposefully" tear-gassed and dispersed journalists. They
asked the court to order federal agents identified as attackers to be
held in contempt, named, ordered to appear in court and banned from
participating in any future armed operations in Oregon. To date this
has not occurred.
Justice Department lawyers claimed the attacks on
demonstrations were needed to "combat hardened rioters" and those
against journalists and legal observers were "'unintended consequences'
of crowd control." The judge rejected this saying, "Plaintiffs'
declarations describe situations including that they were identifiable
as press, were not engaging in unlawful activity or protesting, were
not standing near protesters, and yet were subject to violence by
federal agents." He said evidence provided by the government did not
support the use of force against journalists and legal observers.
During the court hearing, the judge pressed the
Justice Department on whether there is any evidence that people
identifying themselves as journalists or legal observers had injured
any federal officials or damaged federal property. Their lawyer said
the government had not produced any such evidence.
Another federal judge based in Portland rejected a
request from Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum to require federal
officials to identify themselves when arresting or detaining suspects
and to refrain from detaining people without probable cause. The judge
said that Oregon had no standing to ask for the restraining order. This
means the merits of the case were not addressed only that the Oregon
Attorney General is not the person who can make such a request for
activities taking place in Portland.
Federal forces continue to defy the courts and
local and state officials to make this restraining order in Portland
ineffective, like an earlier one placing a limited ban on the use of
tear gas. U.S. Attorney General William Barr and President
Trump continue to defend the violence and brutality, not only in
Portland but in cities across the country, encouraging the disregard
for court orders. They adhere to the imperialist dictum that Might
Makes Right to secure presidential control over policing forces at all
levels, federal, state and local.
Cease and Desist Order for Fence Erected by
As a further indication of the continuing
conflicts among state, local and federal forces, Portland's Bureau of
Transportation (PBOT) filed a cease and desist order on July 23,
calling on federal agents to remove the eight-foot fence they erected
around the federal court house. The order said it was put up illegally
and that it impedes the city's public right of way. This includes "one
of the busiest bike routes in the United States." The agency added that
it has already begun assessing a maximum fine of $500 for every 15
minutes the fence obstructs the street, which amounts to hundreds of
thousands of dollars in penalties. They also said they would remove the
fence, though at present it still remains in place.
Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees PBOT,
said, "This fence was constructed without permission or permits on
public property, and it is both an abuse of public space and a threat
to the travelling public. This illegal action will not be tolerated in
It was "shameful that unnamed, unannounced federal
agents would illegally erect a wall to hide from the people they are
sworn to serve, and I have instructed PBOT to closely monitor the
federal occupiers' actions for additional violations," Commissioner
In an open violation of the rights to conscience,
speech and assembly, federal forces in Portland, Oregon are arresting
people and then only releasing them if they agree not to protest or
even go near protest areas. Many are being arrested on minor charges,
like "failing to obey" an order to get off a sidewalk. Then people are
being forced to agree not to protest as a condition for release. Many
find themselves forced to submit to this blackmail as otherwise they
could remain in jail until trial, which could be weeks away, leaving
their families vulnerable in their absence.
Since July 20, the federal government has sharply
increased the number of protesters it is charging with federal crimes.
The petty offences used are classified as federal misdemeanors only
because they occur on federal property which includes sidewalks around
the courthouse. Court documents show that over a third of the
protesters are charged with "failing to obey a lawful order," with 14
charged between July 21 and July 24 alone. Others are charged with
assault on a federal officer, though no officer is actually named.
At least 12 of those arrested in recent weeks have
been specifically barred from attending protests or demonstrations as
they await trials on federal misdemeanor charges. Some are barred from
protests in Portland, others from any in Oregon and still others from
actions anywhere in the country.
"Defendant may not attend any other protests,
rallies, assemblies or public gathering in the state of Oregon," states
the "Order Setting Conditions of Release" for one protester, alongside
other conditions such as appearing for court dates. In at least two
cases, there are no geographic restrictions. One release document
instructs, "Do not participate in any protests, demonstrations,
rallies, assemblies while this case is pending."
The orders are signed by federal magistrate judges
who have broad authority to set the terms of release for anyone accused
of a crime. They typically receive recommendations from U.S. Pretrial
Services, an arm of the Justice Department, which gathers input from
prosecutors and others involved in the case. It is suspected the bans
on protesting were initiated by Justice Department officials. U.S.
Attorney for Oregon, Billy J. Williams, for example has branded
demonstrators as "violent extremists." "We're going to do what we need
to do to protect federal property," Williams said.
Linking release to agreeing not to protest is also
a means to further criminalize participating in demonstrations. Those
involved are not charged with violent offences and it is only federal
because it occurred on federal property, or at least that is what is
claimed by federal forces. Release conditions are supposed to be
related to public safety or risk of flight. Imposing such conditions
thus implies that demonstrating is a "public safety" risk while also
serving to threaten those defending rights with such bans. As continued
actions by thousands show, the intimidation is not succeeding.
Police snatch-and-grab on Eastern Avenue in Toronto during the G20
Summit, June 27, 2010.
Everything about the recent events unleashed by
U.S. federal policing agencies in Portland Oregon, from the unbridled
violence, to the para-military style snatch-and-grab operations, smacks
of the experience at the time of the Toronto G20 in June 2010. As
shocking as these actions are, it is not a matter of police
inadequately trained for crowd control or some bad apples or a rogue
president. These are conscious, deliberate, planned activities to
suppress the people's opposition and resistance. In the current
circumstances in the U.S. it is the resistance that has swept the
country to state-organized racism and racist killings by police with
impunity. In the context of the G20 in Toronto, it was the mass
opposition to the anti-social offensive by the governments of the G20
Seeing protestors in Portland brutally assaulted,
snatched off the street and stuffed into unmarked vans by unidentified
assailants -- who turn out to be federal police forces under the
direction of Homeland Security -- has so many parallels with what
happened in Toronto in 2010. Anyone who was at the rallies out front of
the makeshift detention centres on Eastern Avenue in 2010 when the
snatch-and-grab operations went down will never forget it. Backed by
huge numbers of riot squad police, squads of plain clothes police
charged out of unmarked vans, assaulted any peaceful demonstrator in
their way, grabbed "a person of interest" forced them into unmarked
vans and sped away.
pointed out at the time of the G20 Summit, the events of police
violence in Toronto were not an aberration but part of a developing
pattern of state activity meant to block the people and workers from
having their say in the society -- whether it be on the right to health
care, education and other social programs, opposition to war or a
direction for society that serves a pro-social aim -- and turning the
situation around in their favour. The violence against the students and
people of Quebec who stood up against the dictate of the Charest
government and the passing of the Special Law there was further
evidence of the increasing state repression against the people and
their right to conscience and their collective right to organize
The G20 was moved to Toronto by then Prime
Minister Stephen Harper, to create the opportunity for a para-military
exercise against the people. The G20 was just that -- a massive
paramilitary exercise orchestrated by Homeland Security, involving
multiple federal, provincial and municipal police forces and authorized
by the U.S. as well as the Canadian federal and Ontario provincial
There were several investigations into how it came
to pass that so much police violence was unleashed against the people
but no matter what wrongdoing was identified, none of those responsible
was ever held accountable.
One such investigation was conducted by the
Ontario Ombudsman. TML Daily wrote on December
"The Ontario Ombudsman issued a damning report of
the Ontario government invoking war measures legislation by regulatory
Cabinet decree last summer to suppress political dissent of the G20
summit held in Toronto. The report details that police and government
officials knowingly acted in violation of the rule of law, democracy
and the rights of citizens and strategized how to do so with impunity.
Equally damning, if not more so, is that even when they are Caught in the Act,
as the Ombudsman's report is entitled, those responsible are not held
"... This conspiracy of government, police and
other security officials to break the law, suspend individual and
collective rights and unleash a wave of violence and terrorism -- which
continues to this date in the unjust, trumped up 'conspiracy' and other
charges against G20 protestors -- are to go unpunished!"
TML Daily continued: "The
Ombudsman concluded the regulation was illegal and that the powers
given to police do not even exist under the Public Works Protection Act
(PWPA) because they were used not to protect public places but to
suppress public dissent. In other words, by regulatory decree, the
Cabinet of the Government of Ontario illegally invoked the PWPA,
violated people's right to dissent and unlawfully extended
extraordinary powers of detention, search and arrest upon the police.
"The investigation also reveals that both police
and government officials were aware that using the PWPA as it was used
during the G20 in Toronto was illegal and unconstitutional. They took
great pains to hide their activity from public scrutiny."
Five Ontario cabinet ministers and Toronto Police
Chief Blair were never held accountable for their activities. For
services rendered, Blair was rewarded with posts in the federal
Cabinet, first as Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime
Reduction and now as Minister of Public Safety and Emergency
Preparedness. As well, the role of the Integrated Security Unit (ISU),
comprised of the RCMP, OPP and Canadian Armed Forces (represented by
Canada Command, which includes U.S. Northern Command) was dismissed by
the Ombudsman's Report simply because ISU spokespersons said they knew
nothing and had no responsibility for the police violence unleashed on
demonstrators and pedestrians alike in Toronto. They claimed it was all
a "communications breakdown" with the Toronto Police.
One conclusion TML Daily drew
was that "It is clear that not one of the Cabinet Ministers involved at
the federal or provincial level, nor any of the police, military and
other security officials involved took a stand when circumstances
called for it, to defend democratic principles, the rule of law or
individual and collective rights of the members of society"
A year-and-a-half after the Ombudsman's Report was
issued the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) issued its own report,
on June 27, 2012, entitled Independent
Civilian Review into Matters Related to the G20. The main
criticism of that Review was that the TPSB did not do the job required
of it, as mandated by the Police Services Act.
TML Daily summed up
that report saying: "What this Review shows is that the rule of law is
held in disrepute by the Canadian state. In the face of the resistance
to the anti-social offensive, the Canadian state uses force and
violence to criminalize the struggles of the people who are demanding
their rights and the rights of their collectives. Not only must the
working class and people of Toronto and Canada reject the bogus Review
done for the TPSB, but continue to demand justice for the victims of
the G20, continue to raise high the banner 'Let Us Together Defend the
Rights of All!,' organize to renew the political arrangements in Canada
and bring in a modern rule of law that protects the rights of the
people from impunity."
These conclusions are as fresh and appropriate
today as the day they were written. Let one and all stand firm with the
American people in unequivocally condemning the unbridled
state-organized violence and terror being unleashed to suppress
resistance to state-organized violence, racism and police killings with
1. For videos of snatch-and-grab operations at
the Toronto G20 summit see:
Snatch and Grab Toronto 2010
2. See TML Daily, December
Snatch Squad At G-20 In Toronto
Kidnapping in Toronto
3. See TML Daily, July 27,
Seattle, Washington and Oakland,
Seattle, Washington and Oakland, California saw
some of the most brutal attacks by local police and federal forces.
There is a smaller force of federal agents, including ICE and Customs
and Border Protection's Special Response Team in Seattle. Seattle has
also sustained actions for more than two months. They too had developed
an area where free food and medical care were provided, and areas for
arts, music, film showings, discussion and presentations, were
established. It was cleared by police July 1 but numerous actions have
persisted since then. The July 25 action specifically targeted a new
youth detention facility, demanding an end to criminalization and
incarceration of youth.
On July 25, the amount of tear gas and pepper
spray in both Seattle and Oakland was so thick one could barely see. As
demonstrators have emphasized, tear gas not only causes coughing --
something everyone tries to avoid with COVID-19 -- but infiltrates the
respiratory system immediately and so completely that eyes, nose,
throat and skin all burn.
"The searing pain induces panic, making you gulp
for air. But the air you gulp is also saturated with gas, producing
more panic. You are also probably running away from police and out of
the gas cloud, making breathing nearly impossible. All the while, you
can barely see anything. CS gas is not just painful; it is completely
disorienting and panic-inducing. It makes people choke for simply
breathing, and choke harder when they try to catch their breath,"
CS gas is a chemical weapon banned in war, but
widely used against those fighting for their rights in the United
States. Despite repeated gassing and many arrests, demonstrators
persist in raising their demands for the removal of federal forces, an
end to racist police violence and impunity, and for equality and human
New York City
Trump has so far not sent federal forces to New
York City, which has one of the largest and most militarized police
forces in the country, as well as a mayor and a governor staunchly
against the use of federal forces. Demonstrators there joined those
across the country to stand with Portland and continue to raise demands
against racist police killings and for rights.
In NYC, the large police presence included lines
of bicycles and police with pepper spray. As well, police used an
unmarked van and plainclothes police to "grab and snatch" an individual
protesting. Those in the crowd tried to "de-arrest" her but were
rebuffed by police with bicycles who surrounded the van and then
proceeded to harass and threaten demonstrators. People were outraged by
the provocation as it was apparent it was done to intimidate and show
police will continue to act with impunity.
Police kettle protesters during New York action in solidarity with
Portland, July 25, 2020.
July 30, 2020
July 27, 2020
July 26, 2020
July 25, 2020
July 24, 2020
Black Lives Matter Bike Ride, July 25, 2020.
New fence going up around the White House, July 26, 2020.
Health care workers hold vigil, July
29,2020, for those who have died from COVID-19 and demand
proper PPE and hazard pay for all health care workers.
July 25, 2020
July 24, 2020
Statue of Christopher Columbus removed by officials, July 23, 2020.
On July 28, 2020 the George Floyd Hologram Memorial Project unveiled a
hologram of George Floyd projected over the statue of General Lee in
Richmond, Virginia. The hologram will be taken on a week-long tour
through North Carolina, Georgia and other states along the route of the
1961 Freedom Rides. The project aims to transform spaces that were
formerly occupied by symbols of the U.S.' racist past with a message of
Columbia, South Carolina
Federal police aim at protester.
Los Angeles, California
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