House Majority Whip James Clyburn Monday accused President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr of doing all they can to "impose Gestapo activities" in local communities by placing federal agents in Portland, Oregon, in the name of protecting federal properties from violent protesters.
"I believe law enforcement should be left up to local communities," the South Carolina Democrat said on CNN's "New Day." "And these communities, if they want help, they will summon the federal government to intercede. That's the way it's been done as long as I have been following this sort of thing."
Trump on Monday said he plans to send federal law enforcement to several major cities whose mayors are "liberal Democrats," including New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Baltimore, and Oakland, California, as part of a federal crackdown on anti-racism protests. The use of unmarked cars and unidentified, camouflage-wearing officers has angered people nationwide.
"For all of a sudden for these people to go in there, nothing from the governor, from local law enforcement, show up with their faces covered in unmarked cars ... this is the beginning of the ending of this democracy," said Clyburn. "That kind of activity is the activity of a police state."
He added that he has been warning about such actions for a long time, and he believes the November election is "all about the preservation of the greatest democracy that this country has ever known."
The Oregonian in Portland reported Monday, quoting federal records shared with Portland police, that there has also been surveillance of protesters from the top floors of the federal Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse. Officers have analyzed video footage and have posed as undercover agents in the crowds, where they have arrested people on allegations that they broke plywood protecting the courthouse doors and that they were shining lasers at police officers.
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