Portland votes to wall off local police from federal law enforcement

By Rebecca Ellis (OPB)
July 22, 2020 10:41 p.m.

The city of Portland will place new barriers between the Portland police and federal law enforcement, barring the local police from communicating with the federal officers who have been deployed to the city.

The resolution passed by City Council Wednesday instructs all members of the Portland Police Bureau to stop providing, requesting or willingly receiving “operational support” from federal officers who arrived in the city under President Donald Trump's executive order. This includes embedding in a federal incident command center, sharing or receiving information with the federal officers or policing protests alongside them.


Related: 50 days of protest in Portland. A violent police response. This is how we got here.

In recent weeks, Portland has seen a surge of federal officers deployed by Trump to guard federal monuments and property. More cities are poised to see this play out.  Trump announced Wednesday that he plans to send federal officers into Chicago and Albuquerque to tackle crime.

Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who crafted the resolution, said she hoped the rule would serve both as a statement of opposition to the presence of the federal officers in Portland but also a template for other cities that might soon see the same surge.

“Not only is the Trump administration violating the constitutional rights of Portlanders, but they are also attempting to use Portland as a proving ground for facism,” she said. “They plan to invade cities across the country — cities that are political targets of the president.”

According to the resolution, any police officer found to be in violation would “be subject to discipline.”

Mayor Ted Wheeler, who oversees the police bureau, said he's asking Police Chief Chuck Lovell to issue an order translating the resolution into directions for the police bureau, which would be effective immediately.

Since the federal officers arrived in the city, protesters along with city leaders have raised concerns over the level of coordination between local and federal law enforcement. Both Eudaly and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said they believe the local police are working with the federal officers.

During Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Hardesty said she believes the head of the Portland Police Union, Daryl Turner, is lying to the public “on a daily basis” about the lack of cooperation. Turner had met with the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf when he was in town last week, where he said he pushed for greater communication between the two forces.


Related: Hardesty Calls On Portland Mayor To Hand Over Control Of Police Bureau

“Though we didn’t bring in the federal people, it is clear the Portland Police Association welcomed their involvement as well as the Portland Police Bureau,” said Hardesty. “And as well as the Mayor — because I've heard the mayor say he also welcomed their involvement.”

This is the first time a council member has alleged publicly that the mayor supported federal law enforcement being deployed to Portland.  Wheeler has repeatedly said he wants the federal officers out of downtown Portland, though he’s emphasized he has no authority to kick them out.

Hardesty had said over the weekend she believes Wheeler’s in denial about the violence being perpetrated by the city’s own police. On Wednesday, she said this violence was directly connected to the presence of federal officers in Portland.

“Let me be clear, the opening came for 45 to send in this militia squad because of the over aggressive actions of Portland police,” she said. “We can not put the blame totally on this federal secret police force.”

Eudaly also introduced a resolution Wednesday condemning the targeting of the press and legal observers by law enforcement and ‘affirming’ that local police can’t arrest or use physical force on members of the press or legal observers who are otherwise obeying the law.

A federal judge had already placed these restrictions on Portland police earlier this month as part of a lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of journalists and legal observers.

Hardesty said the rule was vitally important as she believed leadership within the Portland police bureau did not believe journalists should have special protections that allow them to document protests. She said Lovell had told her that he didn’t believe media had the right to record and document police activity during protests or stay behind during dispersal orders.

“I reminded him that we have a Constitution. And we have a First Amendment right that protects reporters,” she said. “Thank you Commissioner Eudaly because I could not get it through his head.”

OPB asked the bureau if Lovell would like to respond and has not yet heard back.

Wheeler said, while he didn’t agree with everything that had been said Wednesday, he agreed “with the thrust” of the resolutions.

“Our community is under attack. Members of the community are being violently assaulted by unaccountable paramilitary forces deployed by President Trump,” he said. “They are not invited. They are not welcome. They are not properly trained.”

Because of this, he said, he had no reservations supporting the resolution regarding cooperation with the federal government. But he framed it as a resolution that would direct the bureau to “continue to reject any or all requests from support” and not as one that would put an end to the coordination.