Donald Trump's beta run for flooding a city with armed unmarked, unidentified forces took place in Washington, D.C., right alongside his botched Bible photo op that sent his approval ratings plummeting. Now Trump is executing the next phase of his totalitarian fantasy in Portland, Oregon, a western city that was bound to attract far less press coverage than power plays in the nation's central media corridor between New York and Washington, D.C.
This time around, Trump and his Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf have not only deployed unmarked forces, they're also snatching people off the streets without cause and effectively interrogating them. Take Mark Pettibone, a 29-year-old, who was kidnapped by these secret Gestapo-like forces while he was walking home from a peaceful protest in the wee hours Wednesday morning. Though he had done nothing wrong, men in green military fatigues jumped out of an unmarked van, descended on him, apprehended him, drove him to a federal courthouse, then eventually read him his Miranda rights and asked if he would waive those rights to answer some questions. When he said he wouldn't, they let him go. No explanation. No identification. Pettibone doesn't even know if he was officially arrested because it was all such a shady mess of a deal.
If you're wondering what these extrajudicial kidnappings look like, some have been caught on video.
I’m from Argentina, in the 70’s and early 80’s, we had a brutal military dictatorship that used tactics like this, kidnapping people off the streets and putting them in unmarked vehicles, to torture and kill political opponents. This is dangerous. pic.twitter.com/SepRmlqCUC
— Thomas Kennedy (@tomaskenn) July 17, 2020
According to local journalist Garrison Davis and the NPR affiliate Oregon Public Broadcasting, that video is very typical of what's been playing out for about a week now. Several men jump out of an unmarked van, often intent on a single target, and if possible, take them into custody while never identifying themselves or giving any explanations whatsoever.
Local officials and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown have condemned the actions of these unmarked troops, saying Department of Homeland Security Sec. Wolf is intentionally on a “mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes.”
“This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Brown said in a statement. “The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”
Wolf also released a statement Thursday clearly intended to defend the lawlessness of his unmarked forces, which appear to be paramilitary troops operating under orders from Homeland Security. Along with excoriating local leaders for failing to bring "a violent mob" of "lawless anarchists" under control, Wolf listed about a month and a half's worth of supposed violations that apparently warrant disappearing people from the streets of a major American city in his view. Many of them list "violent anarchists" who "graffitied" federal buildings. In other words, watch out for those kids with spray paint.
Wolf also tweeted out praise for the forces Friday. "Our men and women in uniform are patriots. We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch," he said. It's apparently lost on him that these paramilitary forces aren't "in uniform" if they're unmarked.
But what Wolf hasn’t done to date is provide any justification for these kidnappings.
"The obvious question about the people that are arrested off the street is, what's the probable cause?" NBC Justice Correspondent Pete Wilson said Friday on MSNBC. "And we just haven't gotten a good answer to that question yet."
Wolf sounds like a problem in search of a solution—which would be removal from office in any reasonable, law-abiding administration. Instead, Wolf's shadow forces are an obvious extension of Trump's twisted brain that's clearly eager to inflict more lawless evils on the nation if Americans give him a second chance this November.
Trump doesn't just want to be the nation's president forever—he wants to be its forever dictator. Nothing would please him more than having federal forces at his fingertips indefinitely to cater to his every sick whim.
Published with permission of Daily Kos