As genuine as the problem of violence and disorder in Portland may be, some of the practices being alleged are simply not acceptable ways for the American government to act and, if proven, should not be allowed to stand. That’s why it was welcome on Friday when the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, said he wants an investigation into the actions of the federal agents.
Congress should also investigate and, as appropriate, draw up new legislation to clarify and limit federal police powers and tactics.
Here’s my opening bid. We should normally expect police to wear both badges with their names and easy-to-spot agency insignia, not the kind of generic “POLICE” rectangle that random bad guys could readily grind out at home. An average citizen seeing a bundle of poorly-identified men with firearms jumping out of an unmarked van would not be crazy to wonder if they were agents of law enforcement or the kind of cos-play militia-performers we have seen so much of recently.
We should also expect law enforcement officers—whatever the agency—to follow probable-cause standards for arrest and announce and document the grounds for and circumstances of the arrest, label vans used to transport arrestees, and so on down the line with all of the other protections we expect of local law enforcement.