How to Identify the Militarized Feds the Trump Administration Deployed to Crackdown on Protests

 In State
  • Law enforce­ment agents in mil­i­tary gear and some­times uni­forms have been the face of the Trump admin­is­tra­tion’s con­fronta­tion­al response to nation­wide waves of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police cus­tody.
  • Oregon’s attor­ney gen­er­al has accused these uniden­ti­fied agents of unlaw­ful arrests and vio­lat­ing cit­i­zen’s con­sti­tu­tion­al rights.
  • In recent weeks, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has announced deploy­ments of addi­tion­al DHS and DOJ per­son­nel to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Kansas City, and threat­ened more.
  • Using open-source infor­ma­tion, social media posts, and press photos, we’ve com­piled a guide on how to iden­ti­fy the forces in your area and the scope of their juris­dic­tion
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories

In mid-July, a group of men in mil­i­tary cam­ou­flage, bal­lis­tic plate car­ri­ers, and tac­ti­cal hel­mets walked right up to a small group of pro­test­ers in Portland and iso­lat­ed one, who imme­di­ate­ly raised his hands up. They put him in an unmarked, rental Dodge Grand Caravan. 

Only later, thanks to a cell phone record­ing made by anoth­er pro­test­er, did Americans learn those armed men were actu­al­ly law enforce­ment offi­cers engaged in an arrest. 

The offi­cers were mem­bers of Customs and Border Protection’s spe­cial response team, known as BORTAC, but they did not iden­ti­fy them­selves as such. And as the nation­al media and gen­er­al pub­lic’s eyes turned on Portland, they found over a hun­dred more fed­er­al agents in combat fatigues already there, arrest­ing, tear-gassing, and clash­ing with demon­stra­tors on a night­ly basis on a legal basis many Americans found ques­tion­able. 

The fed­er­al pres­ence in Portland was jus­ti­fied, accord­ing to the White House, under an an executive order President Donald Trump signed on pro­tect­ing mon­u­ments in reac­tion to a  wave of van­dal­ism of stat­ues com­mem­o­rat­ing fig­ures from the coun­try’s racist past. A pas­sage buried deep in the order states that upon request, the sec­re­tary of defense, attor­ney gen­er­al, and the sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty “shall pro­vide, as appro­pri­ate and con­sis­tent with applic­a­ble law, per­son­nel to assist with the pro­tec­tion of Federal mon­u­ments, memo­ri­als, stat­ues, or prop­er­ty.”

This juris­dic­tion is on shaky legal ground. In Oregon, the state attor­ney gen­er­al is suing the federal government over agents’ behav­ior, alleg­ing that the lack of clear iden­ti­fi­ca­tion pre­vents cit­i­zens from being able to tell whether they are being kid­napped by armed civil­ians or arrest­ed by law enforce­ment. Congress has begun to respond — Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D‑NY) has spon­sored leg­is­la­tion to force federal agents to wear clear identification, and Rep. Ruben Gallegos (D‑AZ), a Marine Corps vet­er­an, has called for agents to stop wearing military camouflage. Gallegos and leadership within the Department of Defense are concerned that the feds’ use of mil­i­tary cam­ou­flage is being used to intim­i­date civil­ians, as there’s little tac­ti­cal reason to wear green and brown drab battle uni­forms in the urban Pacific Northwest — or any American city. 

In recent weeks, the Trump admin­is­tra­tion has announced deploy­ments of addi­tion­al DHS and DOJ per­son­nel to Chicago, Albuquerque, and Kansas City, and threat­ened more. Using open-source infor­ma­tion, social media posts, and press photos, we’ve com­piled this guide on how to iden­ti­fy the forces in your area and the scope of their juris­dic­tion. 

Business Insider: Defense source|articles

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