Kate Brown, the Governor of the US state of Oregon, has accused federal agents of “blatant abuse of power” while arresting protesters in Portland city, the media reported on Saturday.
A report from Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) contained detailed accounts of witnesses who had seen federal law enforcement officers dressed in camouflage emerge from unmarked vehicles, grab protesters without explanation, and drive off, reports the BBC news.
Since at least July 14, according to the OPB, federal agents have been jumping out of unmarked vehicles throughout the city, and grabbing protesters seemingly without cause.
According to OPB, federal officers have charged at least 13 people with crimes related to the protests so far.
Responding to the development, Brown on Friday also accused President Donald Trump of using heavy-handed tactics to score political points.
Arresting people without probable cause, Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, said was “extraordinarily concerning and a violation of their civil liberties and constitutional rights”.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local officials have said they did not request assistance from federal agents and have asked them to leave.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” the BBC quoted Wheeler as saying on Friday.
On Friday evening, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said that the state justice department was filing a lawsuit against the federal government over the detention of protesters “without probable cause”, adding that “these tactics must stop”.
The Federal officers, who arrived in Portland on Thursday, have also fired tear gas and less-lethal munitions into crowds of demonstrators.
Defending the move, Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf blamed state and city authorities for failing to “restore order”.
“Each night the violent anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it,” he was quoted as saying in the BBC report.
Portland has witnessed demonstrations against police brutality since George Floyd’s killing in police custody on May 25.