Government action in Portland was illegal


I have been horrified by the recent events in Portland.

Unidentified federal troops in unmarked vehicles have been attacking civilians, using tear gas and other weapons that are not allowed during times of war.

This is illegal, and Republicans in Congress need to help stop Trump from this obviously unconstitutional action.

Why is it illegal? Posse Comitatus.

This law, passed to stop federal troops from protecting African Americans, is now being ignored as federal troops attack African Americans.

Posse Comitatus was a response to, and subsequent prohibition of, the military occupation of the former Confederate states by the U.S. Army during the 12 years of Reconstruction following the Civil War.

The Constitution places primary responsibility for the holding of elections in the hands of the individual states.

Maintenance of peace, conduct of orderly elections and prosecution of unlawful actions are all state responsibilities.

However, in the former Confederate states, a number of paramilitary groups sought to suppress, often through intimidation and violence, African American political power.

Although African Americans were supported at first by the federal government, as Reconstruction went on, that support waned.

Following the bitterly disputed 1876 Presidential Election, Congressmen from the former Confederate states prioritized prohibiting the federal government from re-imposing control over their states.

After President Hayes used federal troops to end the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, there was sufficient support to pass the Posse Comitatus Act.

In the mid-20th century, the administration of President Eisenhower used an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act to send federal troops into Little Rock.

The Arkansas governor had opposed desegregation after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated public schools were unconstitutional.

The Enforcement Acts, among other powers, allowed the president to call up military forces when state authorities were either unable or unwilling to suppress violence that was in opposition to the citizens’ constitutional rights.

Look at any authoritarian regime, and you will find some type of secret police.

In the police and military, your name and rank are out there for all to see. Not in Portland.

With regular law enforcement, you have to tell a person why she is being arrested. Not in Portland.

In civil society, you do not have to answer any questions without an attorney present. Not in Portland.

Journalists are supposed to be left alone to report on conflicts. Not in Portland.

The fact that this is happening in Oregon sets up a particularly stark contrast for the right wing here.

A group of far-right extremists led by Ammon Bundy occupied the Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon for six weeks in 2016.

At that time, the right was up in arms over Posse Comitatus. What is different this time?

I will tell you what is different. Laws are different depending on whether you are black or white.

White people get to “stand their ground”; black people get killed.


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