To the Editor:
I have been reading with great alarm and dismay about the “Homeland Security” secret police who have been deployed by the Trump administration to quell the weeks-long, largely peaceful protests in Portland, Ore. — protests calling attention to police violence and brutality, and demanding an end to the disproportionate questioning, abuse and killing of unarmed and nonviolent black and brown citizens in countless incidents that have gone unpunished and unstopped for decades. These federal forces, who wear no insignia or identifying badges and who drive unmarked cars and trucks, have been fomenting violence, seizing protestors on the streets, forcing them into unmarked vans with no probable cause or charges, and detaining them at will at undisclosed locations. Further, this agitation has resulted in the shooting of one protester, Donavan La Bella, critically injuring him. Both the mayor of Portland and the governor of Oregon have declined the presence of these federal forces, and have repeatedly called for their departure, noting they are fueling anger and causing violence in otherwise peaceful protests that were well contained for more than six weeks.
“Today Portland, tomorrow all America” is the promise of the Trump administration, which has deployed these forces, and plans to send them anywhere and everywhere that protests occur. This antidemocratic strategy should be one that has all citizens alarmed, paying close attention, and aggressively opposing it. Where is the national outcry to call out the unlawfully escalated violence and detention of protestors by federal “law enforcement” agencies?
I want to strongly suggest that we should all urge our own Massachusetts governor, Charlie Baker, and our attorney general, Maura Healy (in fact, ALL governors and attorneys general of other states), to join the governor and attorney general of Oregon to file suit against: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service. We need to stand against these acts that run contrary to our democratic process and our constitutional right to peacefully protest.
We cannot let the city of Portland or the state of Oregon stand alone against this outrage. If it can happen there, it can happen here — at the next protest. This is the insidious path toward a fascist police state that an unwitting or complacent populace can be led onto, if not watchful. As citizens of a democratic republic, we must safeguard our rights and stop this in its tracks. As John Lewis advocated, we must: “Stand up, speak up, speak out, and do something!”
Silence = inaction = indifference = complicity.