Mysterious law enforcement officers triggered outrage in Portland this week after social media videos showed what appeared to be military soldiers snatch protesters off streets and take them away in unmarked vehicles without explanation.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, the clandestine officers belong to the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection's BORTAC. They were deployed to protect federal property as violent protests continue in Portland every day.
The officers have been operating in the city since at least July 14, according to OPB.
One protester who was arrested, Mark Pettibone, recounted his experience with the Washington Post.
From the Post:
He was detained and searched. One man asked him if he had any weapons; he did not. They drove him to the federal courthouse and placed him in a holding cell. Two officers eventually returned to read his Miranda rights and ask if he would waive those rights to answer a few questions; he did not.
Pettibone said he still does not know who arrested him or whether what happened to him legally qualifies as an arrest. The federal officers who snatched him off the street as he was walking home from a peaceful protest did not tell him why he had been detained or provide him any record of an arrest, he told The Post. As far as he knows, he has not been charged with any crimes.
In response, Democrats are lashing out at President Donald Trump.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, called the officer deployment an "absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials."
"This is part of a coordinated strategy of Trump's White House to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data," Wheeler claimed, the Post reported.Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi likened the clandestine officers to "stormtroopers" who are "kidnapping protesters."