This week in Portland, Oregon, armed men dressed in camouflage and driving unmarked vehicles began forcibly snatching people off the streets. They did this without identifying themselves, without warning, and without consequences. These men appear to be working for the federal government, possibly for the Department of Homeland Security, but no one will confirm that. Or deny it.
Secret police are common in authoritarian dictatorships and dystopian fiction, but this is America in the real world. These tactics are designed to scare and to silence anyone who dares speak out against the people in power. To be clear, it’s illegal and unconstitutional. So why is it happening?
Local officials in Portland have called for these federal interlopers to leave. They weren’t requested by the city and they are, by all accounts, making things worse. They are not enforcing laws; they are breaking laws. These unidentified men have already injured at least one person and they’ve harassed and detained dozens more. They are working without any fear of accountability. They must be stopped. If these so-called federal law officers can kidnap people at gunpoint without cause and without identification in Portland, they can do it where you live too.
I know it’s hard to focus on one more thing right now, but we must. This is important. If we allow and normalize this sort of “law enforcement,” we give up our right to live freely, to speak freely, and to assemble freely. Now they are coming for the protestors. Maybe you don’t care, because you’ve never participated in a protest. But if they succeed, there is nothing to stop them from coming for you. If the president or someone in his administration decides a particular religion is no longer acceptable, these armed men may show up at your church or mosque or synagogue. They may show up at your children’s schools or sporting events. They may begin detaining people who look a certain way or who have particular surnames. This is how it starts—in one city, while we’re all looking elsewhere.
The Trump administration has been testing its ability to thwart our Constitutional protections for years. If we stand for it, we deserve to fall. If we do nothing to stop this horrifying abuse of power in Portland, we can say goodbye to this little experiment we call America. It will not survive this. No democracy ever has.