Watching Trump’s paramilitary squads descend on Portland, it’s hard not to feel doomed

The Guardian – By Francine Prose – Monday 20 July 2020

The federal police are there to exert power, bully dissenters and intimidate Americans into giving up their first amendment protections.

A new word, doomscrolling, describes the way we compulsively tickle our phones into providing a non-stop stream of dire health and disease statistics, grim economic predictions, images of food lines and exploding emergency rooms.

With so much doom to scroll through, it’s hard to know when to stop and pay attention, but one story that jumped out at me – and, I hope, at many others – is the account of how demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, protesting racism and police brutality earlier in July, were tear-gassed, beaten, seized off the street by unidentified, masked federal agents in camouflage and fatigues, hustled into unmarked vans and detained for hours. The agents were reported to work with the US Marshals Special Operations Group and Bortac, the Border Patrol Tactical Unit.

Government-funded thugs, assaulting citizens, still conjure up repellent images of Hitler’s Brownshirts stomping their fellow Germans, and the street kidnapping of civilians has been the hallmark of authoritarian dictatorships. That was how you wound up in one of Stalin’s labor gulags, in the helicopter from which the Argentinian junta dropped its critics into the sea, or in a CIA black site. In a headline, an Esquire article on the Portland attacks used Pinochet (the tyrant who orchestrated the disappearance of thousands of Chileans during his 17-year regime) as a verb: “A Major American City is Being Softly Pinochet’d in Broad Daylight.”

One can track the violence to Trump ordering the governors to “dominate” their cities, of which, he claimed, they’d lost control. But the governor of Oregon, the mayor of Portland and other local officials insisted that they don’t want federal agents gassing their citizens. So who does?

A US Customs and Border Protection internal memo, obtained by the Nation and dated 1 July, offers some answers. In response to a presidential order “Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Activity, “ the acting director of homeland security has created the “DHS Protecting American Communities Task Force (Pact) to provide an ongoing assessment of potential civil unrest and property destruction”.

Read entire article here

Video source: www.youtube.com

Posted by Teri Perticone

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