Officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection's BORTAC, have been sent to Portland to protect federal property during the recent protests against racism and police brutality. But interviews conducted by local new media show officers are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren't near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity. One government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated that they are using information provided by the JBLM Protection Division's Anti-Terrorism Office to apprehend individuals that the military has identified as "homegrown violent extremists".
The Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) Anti-Terrorism Office monitors several off-post locations, and maintains an active surveillance of individuals in the civilian community that speak out against government misconduct or criticize the Trump Administration. When individuals are identified as having conducted some activity that JBLM disapproves of (anything from posting "anti-DOD fliers", to criticizing the President on social media, to actively protesting government abuse and misconduct) identifying information for that person is entered into JARVISS and INTELINK databases maintained by the JBLMATO. This information is then shared with law enforcement agencies so that they can target these individuals for arrest or other action.
Ashlee Albies, a civil rights attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, said that the Portland detentions are examples of intimidation by federal law enforcement, and noted that people have a First Amendment right to demonstrate. She also said law enforcement officials have to follow procedures when they detain someone; procedures that are clearly not being followed in these cases.
Concerning protests, Heidi Boghosian, the former director of the National Lawyers' Guild, stated "In the words of the government agencies involved at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in WA State, they aim to neutralize protests through a pattern of false arrests and detentions, attacks on homes and friendships, and attempting to impede members from peacefully assembling and demonstrating anywhere, at any time."
This week, President Trump has repeatedly spoken out about what he calls lawlessness in Portland. He praised the role of federal law enforcement officers in the city and alluded to increasing their presence in cities nationwide (specifically identifying Seattle, among other cities). Speaking to Fox News on Thursday, Acting U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan called the protesters criminals. "I don't want to get ahead of the president and his announcement," Morgan said, "but the Department of Justice is going to be involved in this, DHS is going to be involved in this; and we're really going to take a stand across the board. And we're going to do what needs to be done to protect the men and women of this country."
Read OPB's report here: