Cities Sue Over ‘Unlawful’ Deployment Of Federal Law Enforcement During Protests

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Font Size:

The cities of Portland, Oregon, and Oakland, California, filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over “unlawfully” sending federal law enforcement agents to their cities to quell protests.

The lawsuit alleges that both the DOJ and the DHS “unilaterally, unlawfully, and unconstitutionally” sent federal agents to the cities as part of a “law and order” policy, ABC News reported.

Federal agents were sent to Portland after protests and riots were ongoing there for several weeks. The agents, who were from the DHS and U.S. Marshals, were sent to protect the federal courthouse after it was targeted by rioters, according to the report. The agents were also sent to protect federal property in Oakland. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE FOOTAGE: Fireworks, Tear Gas Used At Portland Federal Courthouse)

“This lawsuit challenges the unlawful and unconstitutional overreach of federal law enforcement in response to and in anticipation of civil protests in progressive United States cities,” the lawsuit says according to ABC. “In particular, the lawsuit challenges the federal government’s new policy authorizing the expanded and unbounded jurisdiction of federal law enforcement under the guise of protecting federal property, and the federal government’s related and unconstitutional practice of commandeering local law enforcement officers for similar ends.”

The DHS called the lawsuit “meritless” and claimed that it came from “dangerous politicians and fringe special interest groups.”

“They aim to harm President Trump and distract from his law and order agenda,” a DHS spokesperson told ABC. “The Department of Homeland Security has acted entirely lawfully. Instead of condemning the violence we are seeing across the country, these politicians focus on scoring cheap political points to the detriment of the American people.”

Critics have questioned the use of federal agents, arguing that the government is overstepping boundaries and making the situation worse.

Former DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff said that federal agents don’t have unlimited power in the cities where they are deployed.

“You can protect federal property, but that doesn’t mean it’s an unlimited license to roam around the streets and pick up people based on some suspicion that maybe they’re involved or gonna be involved in something,” Chertoff said in July according to ABC.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in July that she does not want “Trump’s troops” in her city. (RELATED: ‘Help Is On The Way’: Trump Orders 200 Federal Agents To Chicago To Quell Unrest)

“Under no circumstances will I allow Donald Trump’s troops to come to Chicago and terrorize our residents,” Lightfoot said.

Proponents have argued that federal agents have done a good job of assisting local law enforcement in dealing with protests and riots. Attorney General William Barr praised federal agents in September for tracking down Antifa supporter Michael Reinoehl, who was wanted for allegedly murdering a Trump supporter during a protest.

“The streets of our cities are safer with this violent agitator removed, and the actions that led to his location are an unmistakable demonstration that the United States will be governed by law, not violent mobs,” the Attorney General said.