Current Escalations Tied to Past Failure to Hold Agencies Accountable for Abuses
July 20, 2020, New York – The Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement in response to recent news about federal forces in Portland, OR, and the president’s announced plans to send forces to other cities, including Chicago, New York, Baltimore, Oakland, and Philadelphia:
Federal and local law enforcement’s militarized attacks on cities and protesters are symptoms of a rising and desperate authoritarianism from an out-of-control president looking to distract the country from systemic racism, the failing economy, and a brutal pandemic while shoring up his white supremacist base. While Trump is escalating tactics—disappearing people into unmarked vehicles, flying helicopters low over Washington, D.C. like a war zone, flying military planes over Minneapolis and D.C. to collect surveillance—his administration has been laying the foundations and testing the waters for some time. We have only to look to their raids on Sanctuary cities and their brutal immigration detention schemes.
Make no mistake, though, these militarized crackdowns did not begin with Trump: we have allowed DHS, ICE, CBP, the FBI, and other federal agencies to claim expanded powers and get away with targeting Muslims, immigrants, and Black Lives Matter activists, and we have failed to hold them accountable. The vast and unlawful surveillance that we’re seeing today is an expansion of the infrastructure and frameworks that have been put in place for some time. We are seeing the results of our failure to deal with the past: we built the car and have handed the keys to a madman.
We condemn the Trump administration’s violent and unlawful attacks against protesters in Portland and its further threats to broaden this invasion by federal forces to other cities across the country. The administration can expect legal challenges, and, as we have seen in Portland, their attacks will only bring more people out to protest. The Center for Constitutional Rights stands with everyone taking to the streets in Portland, New York, and cities across the country calling for the abolition and defunding of police departments and justice for Black people murdered by law enforcement.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.