Joan McCarter / Daily Kos Staff
(July 13, 2020) — A Portland, Oregon peaceful protester was critically injured Saturday night by one of the federal officers Donald Trump ordered into the city to “protect” federal property.
Donovan LaBella was shot in the head by a federal officer. He had been standing across the street from the federal courthouse holding a speaker, standing alone and not provoking anything, according to videos posted to social media. An officer threw a canister at LaBella, who tossed it back toward the cops and then was immediately shot in the head by a “non-lethal” projectile.
LaBella’s mother spoke with reporters and said his face and skull were fractured and he had to undergo facial reconstructive surgery Sunday.
Trump issued an executive order on June 26 to protect federal property and monuments, and to authorize Department of Homeland Security to deploy officers from around the country and from at least half a dozen different federal agencies and departments. They’ve converged on Portland as part of Trump’s “law and order” campaign.
“Once we surged federal law enforcement officers to Portland,” a senior official told the AP, “the agitators quickly got the message.” Portland’s Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis made clear that his department did not ask for federal troops, have not coordinated with them, and do not appreciate this incursion. “I don’t have authority to order federal officers to do things,” Davis said. “It does complicate things for us.”
Portland police are banned from using tear gas by a recent restraining order, as well as being barred from using impact munitions — the supposedly non-lethal rubber bullets and plastic projectiles — against peaceful protesters. Portland police were already restricted from shooting these projectiles at people’s heads, necks, and throats “unless deadly force is authorized,” or to use them for crowd control unless there’s a threat of death or serious injury. Federal officers, who aren’t subject to those restrictions, have also been using tear gas against the largely peaceful protesters.
Oregon officials have responded en masse to condemn Trump and his actions. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler says that the US Marshals Service will conduct a full investigation of LaBella’s shooting, and he called on the federal forces to abide by the crowd-control rules the Portland police operate under.
Gov. Kate Brown said Trump’s invasion of the city with federal forces “only serves to escalate tensions” and will continue to bring “unnecessary violence and confrontation.” She called the shooting “the tragic and avoidable result of President Donald Trump, for weeks, continuing to push for force and violence in response to protests.”
Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said: “It’s unfortunate that Trump cares more about protecting monuments and buildings than he does people’s lives and constitutional rights. […] We didn’t invite or ask for this overblown intervention by the federal government.”
Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are outraged. Wyden called the deployment of federal officers in US cities “like an occupying army.” Merkley said: “Given Trump’s misuse of force against protesters outside the White House and elsewhere, the deployment of federal agents in Portland raises serious concerns. We need answers.”
Among the officers are the elite Border Patrol tactical team, a special operations unit that is based on the border with Mexico and has also been deployed overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The BORTAC team, one former DHS official told AP, are “highly trained, valuable, scarce resources” that should only be used for domestic law enforcement in extraordinary circumstances. “These units don’t normally sit around idle,” the official — who worked for both President Obama and Trump — said. “What did they get pulled off of in order to watch over statues?”
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