Oregon Seeks Emergency Order Blocking U.S. Agent Arrests

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Oregon asked a judge to block U.S. agents from detaining Black Lives Matter demonstrators without probable cause, saying the actions of federal authorities violate free-speech rights and may increase the occurrence of kidnappings in Portland.

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in her request for a temporary restraining order Monday that the agents’ actions are “not just belligerent but repressive.”

In addition to urging a federal judge to block agents from detaining or arresting people without probable cause or a warrant, Rosenblum asked that agents be required to identify themselves before detaining people and to explain to those they arrest why they are being held.

Portland has been at the center of national attention as unmarked agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol have begun arresting protesters without explanation. The Trump administration says the agents are being deployed to protect federal property.

The agents are acting for “improper political purposes” and their actions “open the door to the risk of outright kidnapping of protesters by private citizens, as word spreads that genuine law enforcement agents are engaged in such tactics,” Rosenblum wrote in the filing.

A spokesman for Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams declined to comment.

The motion includes a declaration from protester Mark Pettibone, who said he was detained for as long as two hours and does not know which agency arrested him. Rosenblum said Pettibone was “forcibly removed from the streets and shoved into an unmarked car.”

“I do not feel comfortable with the risk of being abruptly detained for an indefinite period because I am the sole financial provider for my spouse and children,” wrote Jennifer Arnold, a nurse, in another declaration.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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