Wall of Moms, Black Lives Matter sue Trump admin over Portland response
Members of the groups Wall of Moms, Don’t Shoot Portland and Black Lives Matter sued the Trump administration Monday over its use of tear gas, rubber bullets and other aggressive means in response to protests in Portland.
In a nine-count complaint, the plaintiffs accused the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other federal agents of violating constitutionally protected rights including freedom of speech and protest, and exceeding their law enforcement authority.
The litigation was brought in federal court in Washington, D.C., by several law firms. It was also supported by the group Protect Democracy Project, which announced the lawsuit on Twitter a day after President Trump took to the platform to denounce the participants as anarchists and scam artists.
“We just sued your administration on behalf of @DontShootPdx & @WallOfMoms to make sure the rights of protesters are protected,” the group tweeted in response to Trump’s earlier missive. “It’s time for you to stop attacking patriots.”
We just sued your administration on behalf of @DontShootPdx & @WallOfMoms to make sure the rights of protesters are protected. It’s time for you to stop attacking patriots. https://t.co/8IDnWNiKlk https://t.co/10Fd2VQFNt— Protect Democracy (@protctdemocracy) July 27, 2020
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump sent federal authorities to respond to protests in Portland this month that were initially sparked by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May. The dispatched federal law enforcement have reportedly used tear gas and detained protesters.
Ongoing clashes between protestors and law enforcement in front of a federal courthouse prompted the city’s police to declare a riot early Sunday.
Deana El-Mallawany, counsel at Protect Democracy, said her group’s clients had been engaged in peaceful protest when federal agents arrived in Portland in tactical gear and engaged in aggressive crowd control.
“The intent of the administration’s deployment of federal agents in Portland appears to be to stifle speech the president doesn’t like,” El-Mallawany said. “It’s important to check this unlawful administration policy now, before it is allowed to spread to other cities across the U.S.”
One client, the Wall of Moms, emerged from the protests when a group of women formed a human chain and chanted slogans like, “Feds stay clear! Moms are here!”
The lawsuit also alleges that top Trump DHS official Chad Wolf’s lengthy service as acting secretary runs afoul of the law, and that the court should void his deployment of federal law enforcement agents to Portland.