Op-Ed: Trump Is Using Portland As A Testing Ground For Authoritarian Rule
President Trump is seemingly using Portland as his testing ground for authoritative rule, Portland State University professor Alexander Reid Ross and journalist Shane Burley argued in an opinion piece for Haaretz.
- Numerous videos have emerged showing federal agents in Portland appearing to kidnap protestors, shoving people into unmarked vans and driving away without warning or explanation.
- It was confirmed that the agents were from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and were sent into Portland via an executive order from President Trump, Ross and Burley noted; however, the officers still refuse to explain their presence or identities.
- Portland is one of many cities to have joined the global outcry following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man killed by a police officer. The city has experienced unrest for over 50 days now; however, the majority of protests have been outside the city’s Justice Center, the location of the city’s courts and corrections facilities, where protesters have been calling for racial justice and a defunding of the police.
- To control the unrest, Trump used an executive order to send federal agents into the city. A DHS memo has since revealed that the agents lack proper training and experience, the op-ed noted.
- Juan Chavez of the National Lawyer’s Guild is concerned about the protection of civil liberties, saying in an interview with Ross and Burley this week:
"You have these federal officers who are likely exceeding their authority to both patrol the streets of Portland and also abducting people without probable cause. The intimidation is most of the point. This is the closest lurch we have had to this type of fascism...Trump is talking about deploying these federal troops to cities where he has already shown his disdain for the people who live there and the leadership of those cities."
- The piece discusses the history of authoritarianism in other countries such as Italy, Argentina, and Chile, voicing concern that the U.S. is slipping into similar fascist leadership.
Ross and Burley conclude:
For now, Portland is the laboratory for a new politics of anti-constitutional state-sponsored violence and the suppression of civil rights. The question is what will happen when Portland ceases to be an extreme outlier and becomes a prelude to wider roll-out of authoritarian rule.
Without a strong opposition in the streets, and in the courts, there will then be little restraint on Trump effectively turning federal agencies into his secret police. Even for today’s sceptics, there’s no doubt that would qualify for the descriptor "fascist."