State Watch

Oregon sues federal agencies over allegations they violated protesters’ civil rights

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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) has sued several federal agencies over the detention of protesters in Portland, Rosenblum’s office announced Friday.

Over the past week, heavily armed agents of the Department of Homeland Security have descended on the city over the objection of local and state officials, claiming their presence is necessary to restore order amid protests.

The lawsuit against the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Marshals Service, the United States Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service accuses the agencies of illegally detaining citizens without probable cause.

It specifically cites the July 16 case of Mark Pettibone, who was detained by undercover agents in military fatigues and pulled into an unmarked minivan while he was walking down the sidewalk.

Pettibone was later released and the personnel were identified as CBP officers, but he has said the agents, who held him at a federal courthouse for several hours, did not tell him why they had detained him.

Rosenblum also cites a July 12 case of a peaceful protester who suffered “severe” injuries after agents hit him in the head with an “impact weapon” while he stood outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.

“These tactics must stop. They not only make it impossible for people to assert their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully. They also create a more volatile situation on our streets,” Rosenblum said in a statement.

“We are today asking the federal court to stop the federal police from secretly stopping and forcibly grabbing Oregonians off our streets, and we are announcing a state criminal investigation, with the Multnomah County District Attorney, into the incident resulting in serious injuries to a peaceful protester — apparently committed by a federal police officer in downtown Portland last week,” she added.

The American Civil Liberties Union also sued over the agents’ deployment Friday. The Hill has reached out to the defendants in the case for comment. CBP declined comment to The Hill, citing agency policy.

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