On Democracy Now! 7/21/20:
The U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon has called for an investigation into the conduct of federal officers deployed to protests in Portland, calling their behavior “unlawful.” Local officials are also mounting legal challenges to remove the agents from city streets. Juan Chavez, project director and attorney at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, says it’s a terrifying situation for Portland residents who face “these camouflaged goon squads” who often refuse to identify themselves or their agencies. “They just appear in the middle of the night next to people who are in and around downtown who then get corralled into these vehicles, not told where or who’s picking them up,” he says.
Heavily armed federal officers without name tags have carried out nightly attacks on antiracist demonstrations in Portland, Oregon, and snatched people off the streets into unmarked vans, sparking widespread outrage. “What we’ve seen is a continuous escalation in violence against our protesters,” says Lilith Sinclair, an Afro-Indigenous local organizer in Portland. They note the federal violence follows many years of “severe police brutality” from local police. “It’s left the people of Portland not only worried about their safety, but, even more so, justified in the fight that we’re engaged in.”
As mayors in six cities call for the immediate removal of the president’s rapid deployment units and for Congress to investigate the tactics of federal authorities against antiracism protests, Trump says he may send troops to Chicago this week. “We’re looking at the infringement on our rights that is just escalating,” says Chicago activist Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance. DN! also speaks with Jesse Hagopian, a history teacher in Seattle, where Trump has also vowed to send federal officers to quell ongoing demonstrations.
As President Trump continues to push for schools to reopen even as COVID-19 rates skyrocket in many states, teachers are revolting. “I love my students, and I know that the best place for them to learn is in classrooms where they can collaborate and collectively solve problems,” says Seattle high school teacher Jesse Hagopian. He says teachers recognize that online learning is not an adequate replacement for in-class education, “but I also want to live, and I also want my students to live.” DN! also speaks with Jitu Brown, national director of the Journey for Justice Alliance, which published an open letter to President Trump outlining 14 demands that must be met before schools are reopened, including zero new positive COVID cases for 14 consecutive days.
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