A Navy Veteran Had a Question for the Feds in Portland. They Beat Him in Response.


Christopher J. David had largely ignored the protests in downtown Portland, Ore., however when he noticed movies of unidentified federal brokers grabbing protesters off the avenue and throwing them into rented minivans, he felt compelled to behave.

Mr. David, a Navy veteran, stated that federal brokers’ use of violent ways in opposition to protesters, with out the help of the mayor, the governor or native legislation enforcement, was a violation of the oaths that brokers take to help, uphold and defend the Constitution.

And so, on Saturday, he took a bus downtown to ask the officers how they squared their actions with that oath.

“I wasn’t even paying attention to the protests at all until the feds came in,” Mr. David said in an interview on Sunday night. “That’s when I became aware.”

Protesters have been in the streets of Portland for more than 50 consecutive days, in response to the killing of George Floyd by the police in Minneapolis. The arrival of federal officers in the city has re-energized the demonstrations, which continued on Sunday night, with tear gas once again deployed by U.S. agents.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, said on CNN that he was “familiar with the video” involving Mr. David and that “maintaining an appropriate response is an ongoing obligation.”

Mr. David, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a former varsity wrestler who has lived in Portland since 2006, said he had attended only one protest before — a march for women’s rights in Washington, D.C., in 1989. As a 53-year-old man with health concerns, he said that the risk of the coronavirus was reason enough to stay away from downtown Portland.

“It just didn’t seem worth it to me at that point, but it reached that threshold when I saw Pinochet-type behavior from our own government,” he said, referring to the Chilean dictator.

With his mind made up, Mr. David grabbed a backpack with some essential items — migraine medicine, nicotine gum, his wallet and ID cards — and took a bus downtown, arriving near the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse about 8:15 p.m.

The courthouse has become a focus of protesters, as well as the federal Homeland Security agents who have been dispatched to protect it. But the response by those agents in Portland has prompted a backlash over whether the officers are exceeding their arrest authority and violating the rights of protesters by detaining demonstrators in the area around the federal courthouse.

On Mr. David’s backpack were patches commemorating his time as an officer in the Navy’s Civil Engineering Corps, serving with the construction battalions — the famed Seabees.

He also wore a heather gray sweatshirt with the word “Navy” emblazoned in blue across the top and a ball cap for the Academy’s wrestling team. He wanted the officers to know by sight that he was a veteran, and someone they could talk to.



Source link Nytimes.com

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