from the all-part-of-the-new-dissident-treatment-protocol dept
The tactics seen recently in Portland, Oregon — unidentified federal officers grabbing demonstrators off the street and hauling them away in unmarked vans — are apparently going to be deployed in other cities. The federal government’s response to ongoing demonstrations provoked by a Minnesota police officer’s killing of an unarmed Black man has been escalating in recent days. In cities like Portland — where protests have been a continuous fixture since early May — a blend of CBP, ICE, US Marshals Service, and Bureau of Prisons personnel have been brought in to, supposedly, protect federal property and investigate federal crimes.
But the tactics are disturbing. Dragging people off the street into unmarked cars and taking them to unknown destinations for questioning isn’t how America is supposed to work. There doesn’t appear to be much probable cause involved (simply being near federal property while protesting isn’t indicative of any criminal act) and the lack of identifying info on fatigue-clad officers just makes it that much easier for them to get away with rights violations. Detainees are being released without any paperwork, suggesting a lot of this federal intervention is off-the-books: undocumented and unsupervised.
The DHS likes its new Gestapo-esque tactics so much it’s taking them to other cities.
Chicago may see an influx of federal agents as soon as this week as President Donald Trump readies to make good on repeated pledges he would try to tamp down violence here, a move that would come amid growing controversy nationally about federal force being used in American cities.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for example, is crafting plans to deploy about 150 federal agents to the city this week, the Chicago Tribune has learned.
Homeland Security Investigations — a division that includes agents from several components — will be heading to Chicago to “assist in crime-fighting efforts.” No details have been provided by the DHS, leaving it open to speculation whether this will be more spirited-away-in-unmarked-vans action or something more conventional that targets the non-protest-related crime that has been an ongoing issue in Chicago for far longer than the recent unrest.
Money is on it being more of what was observed in Portland. President Trump has already made public statements about sending federal agents to cities “run by liberal Democrats,” apparently with an eye on shutting down anti-law enforcement protests.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is one of the “liberal Democrats” Trump is referring to. That’s why Chicago is next in line for some secret policing. Lightfoot would prefer this didn’t happen.
“We don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully,” Lightfoot said.
But she’s not completely opposed to federal help — as long as it’s actual help rather than a show of force meant to intimidate people engaging in protected speech.
If Trump wants to help, she said, he could boost federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives resources and fully fund prosecutors.
Even the Chicago PD seems concerned about the DHS’s tactics. The department issued a statement saying it is “critical” that federal law enforcement officers “coordinate” with the PD to “fight violent crime.” There’s nothing in the statement that says the PD has any desire to deploy its force against peaceful protesters or be perceived as standing idly by while federal agents drag people off the street and into unmarked vehicles.
The city’s police union, on the other hand, is pleased with any law enforcement activity — local or federal — that gives it an opportunity to criticize the mayor.
“I am certain you are aware of the chaos currently affecting our city on a regular basis now,” John Catanzara, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, wrote in a letter that was posted on the FOP’s Facebook page. “I am writing to formally ask you for help from the federal government. Mayor Lightfoot has proved to be a complete failure who is either unwilling or unable to maintain law and order here.”
Catanzara’s opinion is not to be trusted. He runs an organization that helps keep bad cops employed. And he’s the best fit for the FOP, given its “no bad cop left behind” focus. Catanzara is one of the most disciplined officers ever to serve in the Chicago PD. He’s also the only one to be elected head of the union while stripped of his police powers.
If this is the blueprint for the future, it’s goddamn frightening. President Trump may not understand the implications of the words he’s using or how they sound to people listening to him, but this statement at a recent press conference appears to indicate Trump prefers martial law and order to regular law and order.
“We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” he said. “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve been there three days and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time, no problem.”
When the feds step in to do the local cops’ jobs, that’s a move in the direction of martial law. Trump’s pro-cop rhetoric — something that never lets up even when cops are at their worst — indicates he’d prefer cops to be making the laws, rather than simply enforcing them. His willingness to send federal agents to cities led by politicians he doesn’t like suggests he wants to run those cities by proxy. This is a federal police state in the making, one that’s going to be increasingly difficult to differentiate from martial law if the feds aren’t able to shut down protests quickly enough.