Judge curbs federal officers while protesters rampage in Portland

Protesters went marauding through the streets of Portland, Oregon Monday, days after a federal judge issued restrictions prohibiting federal officers from engaging in crowd control enforcement more than one square block from the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse.

Protesters broke windows at Portland State University’s Public Safety Office and shattered windows at a nearby Starbucks. Police said people also poured a flammable liquid inside the store.

Law enforcement authorities declared the gathering an unlawful assembly and arrested two people, Kaiave James Douvia and Connor Austin.

According to Portland Police, officers took several items including a tire iron, dumbbell, body armor, gas masks and an umbrella.

Both state police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office have expressed concern about their inability to use teargas to disperse crowds after Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler prohibited its use.

Democratic Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order Monday to allow its use “under extremely limited circumstances” due to the threat of violent protests during the election.

Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office took over command of the police response to protests in Portland, starting at 5 p.m. Monday, through the day after Election Day, ending at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled in favor of left wing politicians and activists who aim to provide protesters even more latitude than they already exercise.

Black Lives Matter and Antifa anarchists have been wreaking destruction in the city for months and preying on business owners who are expressing mounting frustration.

The plaintiffs sued Homeland Security, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Federal Protective Service and U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, alleging the aggressive dispersal of protesters by federal agents outside the federal courthouse this summer encroached on state powers and breached the First Amendment by interfering with the right to protest.

The plaintiffs are state Reps. Janelle S. Bynum, D-Clackamas, and Karin A. Power, D-Milwaukie, along with Portland lawyer and legal observer Sara D. Eddie, the First Unitarian Church of Portland and Western States Center, an organization that monitors right-wing extremism.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction Friday, finding that actions by federal officers have chilled the First Amendment rights of free speech, assembly and religious expression for the plaintiffs. He released the restrictions shortly after the governor’s announcement.

“Within that sphere, called the ‘Excluded Area,’ federal law enforcement can engage in crowd control activities subject to all the pre-existing limits, constitutional or otherwise, on their conduct, but not covered by this injunction,” the judge wrote. “Beyond that line, federal agents must cease crowd control activities, including clearing people away from the U.S. Courthouse.”

Mosman said federal agents “cannot individually target protesters in retaliation for their speech, anywhere or anytime.”

He described the order as a “geographical solution” that will provide protesters with a “zone of safety” where they can peacefully protest without fear of retaliation, restricted only to the federal courthouse located downtown.

He provided a map to the parties in the case, showing the area where federal officers can engage in crowd-control measures outside of the federal courthouse.

Under the order, the boundaries extend to Southwest Fourth Avenue to the west, Taylor Street to the north, First Avenue to the east and Madison Street to the south.

One extended block to the west reaches to the west side of the west sidewalk on Fourth Avenue, the judge noted.

Federal officers may engage in crowd control enforcement while they’re physically within the nine-square block area, “even if those activities have consequences beyond” the boundaries, the judge wrote.

Mosman said his order allows federal officers to continue to make arrests or engage in “hot pursuits” of people believed to have committed a federal offense within or outside the excluded area according to established law.

Federal officers can lawfully make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of an officer or for any felony if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony. They also can conduct investigations, on and off the federal courthouse property, for any offenses that may have been committed against federally owned or occupied property.

Mosman scheduled another hearing the week of Nov. 9 to consider the plaintiffs’ request that would require federal officers to issue warnings before firing any impact munitions. The judge said he would need more information before issuing such a restriction.