Portland and Oakland sue DOJ and Homeland Security for ‘constitutional overreach’ after feds sent officers with ‘limitless jurisdiction’ to quell unrest during protests
- Suit filed on Wednesday in federal court accuses feds of unlawful overreach
- Claims ‘progressive’ cities were targeted for illegal use of federal officers
- Federal officers were seen roaming Portland during riots over the summer
- Cities argue they only have the right to protect federal property and employees
- DHS calls the suit a ‘meritless’ attempt to derail Trump’s law and order agenda
The cities of Portland, Oregon and Oakland, California have joined together in a lawsuit accusing the federal government of ‘constitutional overreach’ for using federal officers to quell violence and unrest during protests.
The suit, filed on Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Northern California, names Attorney General Bill Barr and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf as defendants.
A DHS spokesman told DailyMail.com: ‘Yet again, dangerous politicians and fringe special interest groups have ginned up a meritless lawsuit. They aim to harm President Trump and distract from his law and order agenda.’
‘The Department of Homeland Security has acted entirely lawfully. Instead of condemning the violence we are seeing across the country, these politicians focus on scoring cheap political points to the detriment of the American people,’ the spokesman added in a statement.
The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com.
Federal law enforcement officers guard a courthouse during unrest in Portland on September 23. Portland and Oakland are suing the DOJ and DHS over the use of federal agents
The suit, filed on Wednesday names Attorney General Bill Barr (right) and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf (left) as defendants
Over the summer, federal agents were frequently seen on the streets of Portland, confronting protesters there during more than 100 consecutive nights of violent unrest during protests against racial injustice and police brutality.
Similar scenes have not been reported in Oakland, and that city appears to have joined the lawsuit to thwart the possibility of its city cops being cross-deputized as federal agents.
The lawsuit claims that the Trump administration has used ‘unlawful and unconstitutional overreach’ to target ‘progressive’ cities for ‘expanded and unbounded’ federal enforcement.
It cites the dispatch of federal officers ‘either secretly or with little warning’ to Portland and the continued authorizing of special deputy U.S. marshal status to Portland police despite the city’s objections.
The suit also complains that federal officers have been deployed to non-federal property with ‘virtually limitless jurisdiction’ in Portland, and erected a fence around the federal courthouse there without a permit.
Federal officers disperse a crowd on September 23 in Portland
People protest in Oakland on September 23 after a grand jury did not directly charge officers in the death of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky
The cities claim that President Donald Trump violated the anti-commandeering rule, a Supreme Court precedent which states the federal government can’t require state or local officials to enforce federal law.
‘President Trump has long issued threats against cities he views as progressive or racially diverse,’ the suit states.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who faces a tough re-election in November, has voiced opposition to the practice of cross-deputizing local cops in his city, giving them power to enforce federal laws.
It also allows federal prosecutors to charge anyone who assaults the local cops with assault on a federal officer, and the move has been praised by police unions concerned about officer safety.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler reacts after being exposed to tear gas fired by federal officers while attending a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse on Wednesday
The president of the Oregon Association of Chiefs of police tweeted: ‘By federally deputizing Oregon State Police Troopers, U.S. Attorney Billy Williams can prosecute criminals refused by Multnomah County D.A. Mike Schmidt.’
Wheeler, a Democrat who is also Portland’s police commissioner by city statute, was tear gassed by federal agents while participating in a protest outside the federal courthouse in July.
The lawsuit claims the cross-deputizations constitute ‘lawless commandeering of local law enforcement’ and says ‘these deployments run roughshod over the longstanding federalist balance of the general policing power.’