Court Battles

Judge denies request to stop US agents from making arrests in Portland

A federal judge on Friday denied a request from Oregon’s attorney general to stop federal agents from arresting people in Portland as daily protests and demonstrations over systemic racism and police brutality roil the city.

U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman, a George W. Bush appointee, found that state Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D) lacked standing to sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on the demonstrators’ behalf.

Mosman decided that Rosenblum failed to prove Oregon had an interest that was separate from those of private citizens and that the state relied on “purely hypothetical” arguments about the risks facing Oregonians. He also shot down the argument over the “chilling effect” on the speech rights of Oregon residents that Rosenblum cited, saying it was not a state-specific issue.

“Oregonians, like all Americans, have individual rights to freedom of speech and assembly, conferred by the First Amendment. They can, and often do, bring individual lawsuits to vindicate those rights. And the State of Oregon has not explained why this case is different, why the chilled speech it alleges here injures the state in a way that is distinct from the individual harms that it also alleges,” Mosman wrote.

Friday’s ruling comes a day after another federal judge issued a restraining order barring federal officers from arresting or using force against journalists and legal observers at the demonstrations.

Rosenblum’s suit is one of several being levied against the government as federal officials wage an expansive crackdown on the demonstrations, which have at times turned violent. Critics of the Trump administration’s response have decried video showing federal officers in military-style uniforms arresting people and taking them away in unmarked cars.

“I share the concerns of our state and local leaders – and our Oregon U.S. Senators and certain Congressional representatives – that the current escalation of fear and violence in downtown Portland is being driven by federal law enforcement tactics that are entirely unnecessary and out of character with the Oregon way. These tactics must stop,” Rosenblum said in a statement announcing her lawsuit last week.

The administration has adopted a tough stance on the protests, with President Trump calling the demonstrators “agitators and anarchists” and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf declaring that federal officials would not leave the city until “the violence stops.”

Tags Chad Wolf Donald Trump Ellen Rosenblum Portland protests

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