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Portland Crisis: Trump Receives Criticism for Crackdown at the Portland

Portland Crisis

Portland Crisis

Post the brutal institutional killing of Gorge Floyd in May, the entire US was swept by the wave of anti-racist protests. The Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum and spread rapidly to multiple nations across the globe.

The United States government was thrown off gear as the country witnessed mass protests amidst the escalating coronavirus crisis in the country. People  vociferously called out systemic racism and police brutality across the US, including the city of Portland in the northwestern United States.

Portland is the biggest city in the West Coast state of Oregon, run by the Democrats. Within a few weeks’ time the protests dulled down in the rest of the States except for Portland. The situation in Portland worsened as the system and masses came to loggerheads in the aftermath of Trump’s federal law enforcement officers that arrived in Portland to curb the unrest in July.

The officials were sent despite the opposition from the state and city officials as well as much against the people’s wishes.. This resulted in transformation of the initially peaceful protests into violent riots that involved vandalism of public property and arson by the protesters as well as police violence unleashed on the dissenters.

Trump’s officers were witnessed firing tear gas at the protestors, spraying them with pepper-spray and repeatedly smashing the head of one of the protestors who was reported to be an ex navy officer. Many officers were also seen coming in unmarked vehicles to pick up protestors for detention.

The Trump government is accused of sending forces that were constituted under the new executive order which aimed at protecting the US monuments. According to  a BBC report, the new federal  troops  sent by Trump were created in June specifically to safeguard statues, historical monuments and federal facilities, including Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The official records suggest that these forces are not trained in conflict resolution and riot control. They include units that typically deal with drug traffickers and smugglers.

Emphasising repeatedly on the need to maintain ‘Law and Order’, Trump had tweeted, “We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE.”

Congratulating the officers for cracking down heavily on the protesters Trump has maintained that the “liberal Democrats” have failed to restore order in Portland and sending these forces was necessary for the restoration of peace after nearly two month long unrest. He further added that he can send forces to other cities such as Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Detroit which have  similarly incompetant Democrat governments.

Critics have accused Trump of using Law and Order as his central agenda in the bid to turn around the tables in the Presidential elections where he is trailing behind his rival Joe Biden. He wishes to gain support of the right forces that helped him win the previous Presidential election. This decision of interfering with the state authorities also runs the risk of a constitutional crisis in the US.

Democrat leaders, including Portland’s mayor and Oregon’s governor, have inculpated Trump with aggravating violence by sending federal forces. Oregon has sued the forces, seeking a restraining order so as to stop them from indiscriminately arresting  protesters. Trump is being criticised for not interfering in the coronavirus management of the states and assisting them to battle the pandemic, but rather choosing to clampdown on protectors, turning it into a peace-restoring federal mission.