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Judge Rejects Challenge to Federal Agents Targeting Portland Protesters

PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge in Portland on Friday rejected Oregon’s legal bid to restrict the operations of federal agents who have been battling protesters nightly in the city.

The lawsuit by Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen Rosenblum, argued that the operations of federal authorities, who were using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland and detain protesters, resembled abductions. It called on the court to order the agents to stop arresting individuals without probable cause and to clearly identify themselves and their agency before detaining or arresting “any person off the streets in Oregon.”

In his ruling, Judge Michael W. Mosman of the U.S. District Court in Portland said the attorney general’s office did not have standing to bring the case because it had not shown that the issue was “an interest that is specific to the state itself.”

“I find the State of Oregon lacks standing here and therefore deny its request for a temporary restraining order,” the judge wrote in his ruling.

“I am quite disappointed,” Ms. Rosenblum said in an interview. “If I don’t have standing, I’m not quite sure who does.”

A number of other lawsuits have been filed by private parties against the presence of the federal agents, and Ms. Rosenblum said she hoped they would be more successful.

“Every American needs to be concerned about what’s happening in Portland,” Ms. Rosenblum said. “It could be happening in your city next.”

“There’s no reason for this kind of secret police tactics,” she said.

The state’s case cited the detention of Mark Pettibone, who said he was confronted on July 15 by armed men dressed in camouflage who took him off the street and pushed him into a van. He was driven to a building, placed into a cell and read his Miranda rights. But the state’s complaint said he was not told why he was arrested, nor provided with a lawyer. “He alleges that he was released without any paperwork, citation, or record of his arrest,” the complaint said.

It said that people picked up by unidentified federal agents could fear that they were being abducted.

“Ordinarily, a person exercising his right to walk through the streets of Portland who is confronted by anonymous men in military-type fatigues and ordered into an unmarked van can reasonably assume that he is being kidnapped and is the victim of a crime,” the complaint said.

The lawsuit said federal agents were violating the First, Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution by denying the right to peacefully protest, failing to provide due process and conducting unreasonable searches and seizures.

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