Women-founded groups including Wall of Moms sued the Trump administration over the deployment of federal agents to police anti-racism protests in Portland, Oregon, claiming it has exceeded its authority.
The federal government’s actions in Portland “betray a foundational principle of American democracy: that the federal government exercises only the powers the Constitution authorizes,” according to the suit, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Monday against the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. “Other powers, including the general police power, are reserved to the states and their subdivisions.”
Wall of Moms and the other groups allege that a recently revealed internal DHS memo and the conduct of U.S. officers on the ground, far from the federal property they have the power to guard, indicate that Operation Diligent Valor, as it is called, serves “to intimidate and silence protesters because of their message.” Theirs is the latest lawsuit of several against the administration over the deployment.
President Donald Trump has deployed the agents amid the sometimes violent protests in Portland, part of a nationwide outcry following the death of George Floyd. The president warned he would send federal officers to Chicago and other cities as well, drawing criticism from Democrats, local officials and civil libertarians.
The Trump re-election campaign has sought to leverage the protests to portray Democratic-controlled cities as permissive and to suggest a victory by presidential candidate Joe Biden in November would mean anarchy. Most of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country have been peaceful.
General police power is reserved to the states and their subdivisions, and the Constitution bars a federal domestic security or police force, according to Monday’s suit, which seeks an injunction against the operation while the lawsuit plays out.
DHS didn’t immediately respond to a call and an email seeking comment on the lawsuit.
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