[WSMDiscuss] The US is aflame, its people are afire… : New meanings ?

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Thu Jul 23 21:14:21 CEST 2020

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Viruses in movement…, The US in movement…, Racism in movement…, Resistance in movement…, Freedoms in movement…,  Power in movement…

[The US is aflame, its people are afire…  These words are taking on new meanings, as I write :

“I was protesting peacefully so why did federal troops shoot me in the head?” asked Ms. Healy, 52, who is the chair of the history department at Lewis & Clark College.

·      US judge hears Oregon’s request to restrain federal agents sent to Portland

·      Virtual Town Hall on Facebook, July 27 2020, 4:30-5:30 EDT : Community Resistance to Cleveland Police Funding : Stop ORP [Operation Relentless Pursuit]

·      With a paramilitary presence in Portland, what’s next in the land of the free ? Martial law ?

·      150 Federal Agents Set To Deploy In Chicago

·      New York, Chicago, promise court fight if Trump sends in unidentified federal agents

US judge hears Oregon’s request to restrain federal agents sent to Portland

Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-us-judge-to-hear-oregons-request-to-restrain-federal-agents-sent-to/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-us-judge-to-hear-oregons-request-to-restrain-federal-agents-sent-to/>

Lawyers for [the state of] Oregon argued Wednesday for a restraining order against federal agents deployed to quell protests in Portland, in a stand off that some legal experts have warned could lead to a constitutional crisis in an election year.

A federal judge heard the state’s and the U.S. government’s arguments in a lawsuit filed by Oregon Attorney-General Ellen Rosenblum, who accuses federal agents of arresting protesters without probable cause, whisking them away in unmarked cars and using excessive force to quell the unrest. Federal authorities have disputed those allegations.

The lawsuit is part of a growing pushback against the Trump administration’s use of federal agents in Portland and its plans to do the same in other cities that is deepening the country’s already considerable political divides. Democratic mayors of 15 cities condemned the use of the agents in a letter to the attorney-general.

The hearing Wednesday focused on the actions of more than 100 federal agents responding to protests outside the city’s Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which has been a target for more than 50 nights of demonstrations against racial injustice after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The motion for a temporary restraining order asks U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman to command agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, the Federal Protective Service and the U.S. Marshals Service to immediately stop detaining protesters without probable cause, to identify themselves and their agency before arresting anyone, and to explain why an arrest is taking place.




The mayor of Portland was among protesters as they were tear gassed by law enforcement during another night of demonstrations in his city. But at a separate rally he was also heckled by some protesters, who are demanding his resignation. Reuters 

During the hearing – held by video conference because of the coronavirus pandemic – the state acknowledged that federal agents have the right to defend the courthouse but argued they had overstepped.

Ms. Rosenblum, the state attorney-general, said she was asking the court to “declare it not acceptable for federal officers to use unconstitutional, police state-type acts to detain citizens of Oregon without cause.”

David Morrell, a lawyer for the U.S. government, called the motion “extraordinary” and told the court it was based solely on “a few threadbare declarations” from witnesses and a Twitter video.

“The Hatfield courthouse did not damage itself,” he said, calling the protests “dangerous and volatile.”

It’s not clear when Justice Mosman will rule, but he challenged the state on whether it had the standing to ask for the restraining order. The judge noted that past legal decisions have required a state to establish a very high bar – “quasi-sovereign interest” – in order to successfully sue the U.S. government.

Lawyers for Oregon contended they had met that bar because the actions of the federal agents could erode Oregonians’ trust in all law enforcement, including state and city officers.

But Mr. Morrell, the U.S. government lawyer, disputed that, saying successful suits usually involved issues that affected many people, not “highly individual interests,” like the arrests.

The suit is one of several filed over law enforcement’s response to the Portland protests. On Thursday, a judge will hear arguments in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of journalists and legal observers who say they were targeted and attacked by police while documenting demonstrations. A freelance photographer covering the protests for the Associated Press submitted an affidavit that he was beaten with batons, chemical irritants and hit with rubber bullets.

U.S. Judge Michael Simon previously ruled that journalists and legal observers are exempt from Portland police orders requiring protesters to disperse once an unlawful assembly has been declared. Federal lawyers say that journalists should have to leave when ordered.

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, a fence was raised around Portland’s federal courthouse, at which protesters and federal agents had clashed again overnight, according to police. Protesters repeatedly tried to break into the building and set fires around it, and the federal agents drove them back with tear gas and stun grenades, the police said.

Far from tamping down the unrest in Portland, the presence of federal agents has recently energized the nightly protests.

Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office said Wednesday that he would attend the protests later in the evening and there would be “some form of dialogue” with the demonstrators. Mr. Wheeler has been vocal in opposing the federal agents’ presence in Portland – but he has still come in for harsh criticism from many sides. Some, including fellow council members, have accused him of not reining in local police, who used tear gas before the federal agents arrived. Others, including business leaders, have condemned him for not bringing the situation under control.

As news of Mr. Wheeler’s planned appearance spread, one group that has been prominent in the protests, the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, told the mayor to stay away.

More broadly, the use of federal agents against the wishes of state and local officials – and the threat that it might be done elsewhere – was deepening the country’s already considerable political divides and potentially setting up a constitutional crisis months ahead of the presidential election. The standoff could escalate if U.S. President Donald Trump sends federal agents elsewhere, as he says he plans to do, including to Chicago.

The mayors of Chicago, Portland and other Democrat-led cities objected to such deployments and called them political in a letter to Attorney-General William Barr and Department of Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf.

Federal authorities have defended their response, saying officials in Oregon had been unwilling to work with them to stop the vandalism against the U.S. courthouse and violence against federal officers.

Mr. Wolf told a news conference Tuesday that agents have been assaulted with lasers, bats, fireworks, bottles and other weapons. While he said federal agencies have made 43 arrests since July 4, he disputed that they were done by unidentified agents, noting that they have the word “police” on their uniforms.

Among the protesters this week was Maureen Healy, who joined a march Monday as demonstrators sang songs and chanted the names of Black lives lost.

Just after midnight, she saw a line of authorities wearing camouflage and dark outfits advance on the crowd. The crowd retreated, and Ms. Healy said she heard bangs, saw smoke and was struck by a projectile. She went to the hospital with a black eye, cut to her face and a possible concussion.

“I was protesting peacefully so why did federal troops shoot me in the head?” asked Ms. Healy, 52, who is the chair of the history department at Lewis & Clark College.




Police fired tear gas at protesters in downtown Portland during the early morning hours of Wednesday, as demonstrations against police brutality and systemic racism in Oregon's largest city continue to rage on. Reuters 

Virtual Town Hall on Facebook, July 27 2020, 4:30-5:30 EDT :

Community Resistance to Cleveland Police Funding : Stop ORP [Operation Relentless Pursuit]

Public · Hosted by Black Lives Matter Cleveland <https://www.facebook.com/BLM216/?fref=tag>, Our Revolution Mahoning Valley <https://www.facebook.com/OurRevolutionMahoningValley/?fref=tag> and 12 others

https://www.facebook.com/events/s/community-resistance-to-clevel/1163907707312449/ <https://www.facebook.com/events/s/community-resistance-to-clevel/1163907707312449/>

With a paramilitary presence in Portland, what’s next in the land of the free ? Martial law ?

Lawrence Martin

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-with-a-paramilitary-presence-in-portland-whats-next-in-the-land-of/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-with-a-paramilitary-presence-in-portland-whats-next-in-the-land-of/>
John Yoo is the Berkeley law professor who, in 2002, notoriously wrote the legal justification <https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/02/the-torture-memos-10-years-later/252439/> for waterboarding and other forms of torture for the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Now he is advising Donald Trump on the extremes he can go to in exercising his presidential power. Mr. Trump, wouldn’t you know it, likes very much what he is hearing.

Given the precedent of a recent Supreme Court ruling  <https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/18-587_5ifl.pdf>on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, in which the court upheld a 2012 executive order from former president Barack Obama, Mr. Yoo says Mr. Trump is now free to issue executive orders in respect to health care, immigration, criminal justice, inner-city policy and the like.

Mr. Trump, who told Fox News he would follow up on the highly dubious legal interpretation, has never been shy about pushing authoritarian limits and is now even more emboldened.

Exhibit A: Mr. Trump sending in federal police officers – “stormtroopers,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called <https://twitter.com/speakerpelosi/status/1284294427654197248> them, or political props as others have described them – to crush protests by the Black Lives Matter movement in Portland, Ore.

The move, as can be imagined, has prompted outrage from local and state governments, as well as constitutional scholars. Mr. Trump looks prepared to do anything to salvage his collapsing presidency, including putting the democratic rights of Americans on a ventilator.

At the beginning of June, with protests against the death of George Floyd raging across the country, Mr. Trump called on state governors to use the National Guard to “dominate” the streets. If they didn’t, he said he would “deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

In response, Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden declared <https://twitter.com/ronwyden/status/1267605801549664256?lang=en>: “The fascist speech Donald Trump just delivered verged on a declaration of war against American citizens.”

That sounded like an overstatement at the time. But it doesn’t sound so exaggerated now, not with the President’s bully brigade having descended on Portland in unmarked vans, wearing green military fatigues with police insignia. They clubbed and seized demonstrators from the streets, taking them off to detention, and denying, as constitutional law experts have said, basic rights of assembly, free speech and lawful arrest.

On Monday, hundreds of women – “moms,” as they called themselves – joined the latest round of protests by linking arms while federal agents used tear gas and batons to push them back.

Mr. Trump’s shadowy police force was from the Department of Homeland Security and its subagencies. He announced that he intends to send other such units, answering only to him, to other cities such as Chicago and New York, whether they like it or not.

The cities, Mr. Trump emphasized in order to brazenly politicize the demonstrations, are “all run by very liberal Democrats. All run, really, by radical left.”

How astonishing can it get with the 45th president? Are we to imagine federal stormtroopers acting as political props, unleashed throughout the great republic to do his authoritarian bidding against the Democrats, denying protesters due process?

What’s next in the land of the free? Martial law?

As Oregon’s Democratic Governor Kate Brown put it, <https://twitter.com/oregongovbrown/status/1283913150014926848?lang=en> “This political theatre from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety.” Rather, “it’s a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes.”

Faced with multiple calamities – health, economic, racial, not to mention his own countless afflictions that are speeding him toward defeat – Mr. Trump is attempting to create a huge diversion. He wants to incite more protests and create utter lawlessness, attribute it all to the Democrats, and then cast himself as the restorer of order, the anchor against anarchy.

Oregon is a hotbed of progressivism, which dates far back into the state’s history. The vast majority of protesters are peaceful advocates for the Black Lives Matter movement. There are some who are inexcusably violent, as is often the case with mass protests; they have targeted <https://www.dhs.gov/news/2020/07/16/acting-secretary-wolf-condemns-rampant-long-lasting-violence-portland> government buildings, including a federal courthouse, with fireworks and projectiles for more than 50 nights and counting.

But to send a federal paramilitary force to Portland and to other Democrat-run cities, for ulterior political motives, is a plunge into authoritarianism we’ve yet to see from an American president.

With the November election campaign moving into high gear, Americans are beginning to see how low Mr. Trump will go. He refused to say again this week whether he would accept the presidential election verdict. He threateningly tweeted <https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1285540318503407622?lang=en> that mail-in voting “will lead to the most CORRUPT ELECTION in our Nation’s History!”

His only hope is to create alternative realities, including that of a country under siege by Democratic radicals. He can then invoke oppressive powers, imagined by the likes of torture advocate Mr. Yoo, and hope Americans are dumb enough to buy in.

150 Federal Agents Set To Deploy In Chicago

Associated Press

https://popularresistance.org/150-federal-agents-set-to-deploy-in-chicago/ <https://popularresistance.org/150-federal-agents-set-to-deploy-in-chicago/>
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is crafting plans to deploy about 150 federal agents to Chicago this week, the Chicago Tribune has learned, a move that would come amid growing controversy nationally about federal force being used in American cities.

The Homeland Security Investigations, or HSI, agents are set to assist other federal law enforcement and Chicago police in crime-fighting efforts, according to sources familiar with the matter, though a specific plan on what the agents would be doing had not been made public.

One city official said the city was aware of the plan but not any specifics. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

One Immigration and Customs Enforcement official in Chicago, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak on the matter, confirmed the deployment was expected to take place. The official noted that the HSI agents, who are part of ICE, would not be involved in immigration or deportation matters.

It was unclear where all the agents would be coming from, though many were expected to be from agencies operating in the Chicago area. Questions remained about the chain of command.

The Chicago Police Department issued a statement Monday.

“The Chicago Police Department does not maintain any authority over the federal government’s deployment of federal law enforcement agents to the city of Chicago. We regularly work alongside our local and federal law enforcement agency partners toward the common goal of keeping Chicago residents safe,” the statement read. “If federal agents are deployed, it is critical that they coordinate with the Chicago Police Department and work alongside us to fight violent crime in Chicago.”

The use of federal agents to confront street protesters in Portland, Ore., has raised alarm in many circles. Chicago, too, has dealt with protests that have led to injuries in recent days.

At an unrelated news conference Monday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she had great concerns about the general possibility of President Trump sending federal agents to Chicago based on what had happened in Portland, Ore.

If Trump wants to help, she said, he could boost the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives resources and fully fund prosecutors.

“We don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully,” Lightfoot said.

Later Monday, Lightfoot sent a four-page letter to Trump saying that, despite his “misplaced and incendiary rhetoric,” she will take him at his word that he wants to help Chicago.

And if that’s so, she said, the city needs gun safety reforms and investigations of illegal sales, more spending on community-based outreach and development in disinvested South and West Side neighborhoods.

“These acts will deliver on your promise to make Chicagoans safer — not derision, mandates or militarized forces,” Lightfoot said.

Word of the Chicago plan came after Trump last week made a vague announcement on how his administration intended to deal with crime in big U.S. cities such as Chicago. The Republican president, who has been very critical of violence in Chicago throughout his term, has been pushing a “law and order” message as he enters the final stretch of his reelection campaign against his presumptive Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump alluded to the same issue in an interview with “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace, calling Chicago and New York “stupidly run” cities and blaming the violent crime there on Lightfoot and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

He repeated his pledge at the White House on Monday and linked the effort to Portland.

“I’m going to do something, that I can tell you because we’re not going to leave New York and Chicago and Philadelphia, Detroit and Baltimore, and all of these — Oakland is a mess. We’re not going to let this happen in our country, all run by liberal Democrats,” Trump said, talking about violence in those places, and then mentioning Portland.

“We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” he said. “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve been there three days and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time, no problem.”

Lightfoot pushed back last week on criticism from Trump’s press secretary, saying the Trump administration is trying to put the blame on Democrats for political purposes to “score points with their base.”

Without offering specifics, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Fox News over the weekend that Trump, Atty. Gen. William Barr and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf would roll out a plan this week for tamping down crime in various U.S. cities.

“Some of the unrest that we saw, even in the last month or so, but particularly last night and in the week leading up to it in Portland, is just not acceptable when you look at communities not being safe and not upholding the rule of law,” said Meadows. “So, Atty. Gen. Barr is weighing in on that with Secretary Wolf, and you’ll see something rolled out this week as we start to go in and make sure that the communities, whether it’s Chicago or Portland or Milwaukee or someplace across the heartland of the country, we need to make sure their communities are safe.”

As news of the plans spread, leaders of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois issued a strongly worded statement opposing the move.

“Make no mistake: Trump’s unmarked federal forces will not assist in constructively addressing violence in Chicago,” Colleen Connell, executive director of the group, said in the statement. “As our colleagues have seen in Portland, Trump’s secret forces will terrorize communities, and create chaos. This is not law and order. This is an assault on the people of this country, the specific protections of protest and press in the 1st Amendment, and the Constitution’s assignment of policing to local authorities, not a president acting like a despot.”

On Saturday, the president of the Chicago police’s largest union sent Trump a letter asking for help from the federal government in putting a lid on crime in the city.

“I am certain you are aware of the chaos currently affecting our city on a regular basis now,” John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, wrote in a letter that was posted on the FOP’s Facebook page. “I am writing to formally ask you for help from the federal government. Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here.”

So far in 2020, Chicago has experienced one of its most violent years in recent memory, especially since late May with the fallout over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota. Through July 12, homicides in Chicago were up 48%, to 385, compared with 260 at the same time last year, official CPD statistics show. Shootings were also up 46%.

During a 28-day period through July 12, 116 people were slain in Chicago, the statistics show. That’s up from 41 during the same period in 2019.

In addition to Portland, Homeland Security agents have already been sent to other cities, including Washington and Seattle.

Oregon’s attorney general sued Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service on Friday, alleging in a complaint that federal agents in Portland, which has continued to see intense unrest since Floyd’s death on May 25, unjustifiably grabbed people from the city’s streets.

New York, Chicago, promise court fight if Trump sends in unidentified federal agents

Nathan Layne and Jonathan Allen, Reuters

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-new-york-chicago-promise-court-fight-if-trump-sends-in-unidentified/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-new-york-chicago-promise-court-fight-if-trump-sends-in-unidentified/>
July 21 2020

Background article :

Trump says he will send federal forces to more U.S. cities despite national outcry over tactics

Steve Holland and Lisa Lambert, Reuters

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-were-not-going-to-apologize-us-officials-defend-crackdown-on/ <https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-were-not-going-to-apologize-us-officials-defend-crackdown-on/>

Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
SUBSCRIBE TO World Social Movement Discuss, an open, unmoderated, and self-organising forum on social and political movement at any level (local, national, regional, and global).  To subscribe, simply send an empty email to wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net <mailto:wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200723/1a58237b/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list