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Feds Use Unmarked Vans to ‘Kidnap’ Protesters Off Portland Streets, Enraging Local Officials

Federal law enforcement have been driving around downtown Portland in unmarked vans and grabbing protesters, without even offering an explanation.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – In a bid to suppress protests against police brutality and racial injustice in Portland, Oregon, federal authorities have turned the city into a de facto police state in recent days, where heavily-armed security personnel roam the streets and unmarked vehicles snatch suspected protesters from city streets.

Multiple reports from Portland indicate that the camouflaged federal officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operation Group and the SWAT-like Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) have been escalating their tactics against residents in a manner that increasingly resembles some of the world’s most authoritarian governments.

And to make matters worse, the federal deployment isn’t even wanted by local authorities.

On Thursday night, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that federal law enforcement have been driving around downtown Portland in unmarked minivans and grabbing protesters, without even offering an explanation of why they are being detained, and whisking them off.

For lawyer Juan Chavez, the director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center, the tactics are tantamount to “abduction” and “kidnapping people off the streets” – methods of state repression that are more common in countries with notoriously wretched human rights standards like Colombia, Mexico, or the Philippines, where enforced disappearances of dissidents are the norm.

“It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” Chavez told VICE News.

In one such incident on July 15, protesters Conner O’Shea and Mark Pettibone were leaving a protest at the Multnomah County Justice Center and Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse when an unmarked minivan pulled up in front of them.

“I see guys in camo,” O’Shea explained. “Four or five of them pop out, open the door and it was just like, ‘Oh s***. I don’t know who you are or what you want with us.’”

While O’Shea said he managed to flee – after which he was pursued by a second minivan – Pettibone wasn’t so lucky.

“I am basically tossed into the van,” Pettibone said. “And I had my beanie pulled over my face so I couldn’t see and they held my hands over my head.”

Pettibone was understandably terrified and had no idea why he was arrested or detained before ultimately being released two hours later. However, during the ordeal he was essentially blindfolded while surrounded by armor-clad men who wore no markings and didn’t even identify themselves.

As it turned out, Pettibone was brought to a federal courthouse before he was released.

“It was basically a process of facing many walls and corners as they patted me down and took my picture and rummaged through my belongings,” he said. “One of them said, ‘This is a whole lot of nothing.’”

While the two attend protests regularly, as is their right, they haven’t engaged in any property destruction, vandalism, or even shined laser pointers at officers.  However, Pettibone assumed that it was because he was profiled based on his wardrobe.

“I just happened to be wearing black on a sidewalk in downtown Portland at the time,” Pettibone said. “And that apparently is grounds for detaining me.”

The abductions of protesters off city streets have also been accompanied by indiscriminate violence being meted out against local residents. On Thursday night and Friday morning, federal officers in gas masks marched through downtown Portland and inundated the streets with tear gas. A federal judge had previously barred Portland police from using the chemical agent, reports New York Times.

The violent federal deployment to Portland appears to be a result of President Donald Trump’s June 26 executive order to protect monuments across the country. However, the order also included provisions granting federal authorities like the Department of Homeland Security a six-month authorization to provide “personnel to assist with the protection of Federal monuments, memorials, statues, or property.”

And on Thursday, acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf arrived in Portland and essentially declared his intention to stamp out what he described as a “violent mob” of anarchists enabled by a weak local response.

Local elected officials have denounced the aggressive federal intervention in Portland.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has pleaded for calm since protests broke out following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, has blasted the deployment as totally “irresponsible.”

“We do not need or want their help,” Wheeler earlier this week. “The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether.”

Meanwhile, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese decried what he called a “significant setback” dealt by federal authorities to attempts to calm tensions between the community and the police.

Most forcefully, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has accused Trump of essentially starting a war on the streets of Portland in a cynical move to win votes in neighboring states for the November presidential election – an approach she was sure of following her talk with the acting DHS head.

“This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Gov. Brown said in a Thursday tweet thread. “The president is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”

“I told Acting Secretary Wolf that the federal government should remove all federal officers from our streets,” she added. “His response showed me he is on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes. He is putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm’s way.”

“Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa.”

Corruption

Scientists Horrified as Over 27,000 Leaking Barrels of Toxic DDT Discovered on Seafloor Near LA

Elias Marat

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Over 27,000 barrels of the toxic insecticide DDT have been found so far on the seafloor about 12 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, in what could be one of the greatest examples of industrial pollution uncovered in recent memory.

The barrels have been leaking, and researchers fear that there could be up to a few hundred thousand barrels of DDT waste in total. Over 100,000 total objects have been found in the area by researchers at the University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

The barrels cover an area roughly spanning double the size of Manhattan and lie off the coast of Santa Catalina Island, which is home to dozens of endemic species that exist nowhere else in the world.

DDT waste has been linked to cancer and widespread disease among humans as well as mass die-off events in the natural world. It is likely that the vast trove of illegally dumped DDT could be linked to the widespread cancer faced by sea lions along the West Coast.

“Unfortunately, the basin offshore Los Angeles has been a dumping ground for industrial waste for several decades, beginning in the 1930s. We found an extensive debris field in the wide area survey,” said Eric Terrill, chief scientist of the expedition and director of the Marine Physical Laboratory at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said in a statement.

Los Angeles Times reports that shipping logs from a disposal company implicate Montrose Chemical Corp. of California, a company that produced DDT, in likely dumping some 2,000 barrels of DDT-laced sludge each month from 1947 to 1961 into a designated dumpsite.

Additionally, logs from other entities show that several other industrial concerns in Southern California used the basin as a dumping ground until 1972, when the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act was enacted.

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Corruption

Rep. Matt Gaetz’s “Wingman” Wrote Letter Admitting Both Men Paid for Sex With Teen

Elias Marat

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Joel Greenberg, the former Florida county tax collector and longtime “wingman” of embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz, admitted in a letter that both he and the disgraced GOP congressman paid for sex with a number of women – including a minor.

The confession letter was written during the waning day of the Trump presidency, long before the scandalous conduct of the Florida congressman gripped national headlines, in a bid to win a pardon from President Donald Trump, reports the Daily Beast.

In the letter, which was handwritten, Greenberg reveals that both he and Gaetz allegedly were “involved in sexual activities” with a girl who was 17 at the time.

“On more than one occasion, this individual was involved in sexual activities with several of the other girls, the congressman from Florida’s 1st Congressional District and myself,” Greenberg wrote in reference to the minor.

Continuing, he noted that various forms of payment were made to the teen to secure sexual favors.

“From time to time, gas money or gifts, rent or partial tuition payments were made to several of these girls, including the individual who was not yet 18,” Greenberg wrote.

“I did see the acts occur firsthand and Venmo transactions, Cash App or other payments were made to these girls on behalf of the Congressman.”

Greenberg alleges that the teen had deceived the pair over her age, and that he and Gaetz were under the false impression that she was 19 when they paid her for sex.

“There was no further contact with this individual until after her 18th birthday,” he claimed.

The letter was written after notorious Trump ally and “fixer” Roger Stone was asked for a pardon by Greenberg.

Gaetz, 38, has been facing an investigation over whether he paid a 17-year-old for sex and facilitated her travel, which would violate sex trafficking laws.

It is also believed that the investigation encompasses the possibility that the congressman paid a number of women recruited online for sex.

Gaetz has denied ever paying for sex or having sex with a 17-year-old, and he hasn’t yet been changed.

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Corruption

Video Shows Officers Stop Fellow Cop Who Was Punching Handcuffed Woman

Elias Marat

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The conviction of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd has drawn mixed reactions from law enforcement officers across the country. While many police departments and associations have responded positively, some officers have also reacted with quiet resentment – and even the fear that they, too, may one day be held accountable for excessive use of force.

This may have also been the case in an altercation caught on video where two police officers in Orange County, California, could be seen stepping in and preventing a fellow officer from continuing to punch a handcuffed woman during an arrest.

In dramatic video from Wednesday captured via mobile phone in Westminster, the handcuffed woman – Ciomara Garcia, 34 – can be seen between two officers sitting on the curb. As one officer stands up, the woman does too before an officer pushes her down to the ground. The woman then attempts to kick the officer in the crotch before the officer begins punching her.

The two other officers then quickly intervene to restrain the officer and shove him away, preventing him from further beating Garcia as neighbors reminded the police in Spanish that they are filming the arrest.

The officers were initially dispatched to the neighborhood by a call over an alleged assault with battery claiming Garcia assaulted an Asian woman who was trying to fetch her dog running loose in the street.

A witness, however, told KTTV that Garcia was walking her dog when a bicyclist approached closely, causing Garcia to fear that her dog would be harmed. An altercation between the residents soon unfolded. Five minutes later, the bicyclist returned with the officers, alleging that Garcia struck her. The witness claims no such attack occurred.

Garcia has been booked into Orange County Jail on a bench warrant, while the officer was promptly placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation.

One wonders whether some officers are changing tack in their relations with the community, and with the so-called “bad apples” in their own ranks, following Chauvin’s conviction on all counts for the murder of George Floyd.

Meanwhile, the three other former officers who took part in last May’s fatal arrest – Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – could face serious jail time for aiding and abetting Chauvin in the slaying of the Floyd.

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