In response to George Floyd’s death, civil unrest and protests are erupting across the country. Now, the Trump Administration is beginning the practice of deploying various federal law enforcement entities to bolster the capabilities of local law enforcement in cities such as Portland, Seattle, and Kansas City, Missouri.
Overseen primarily by the White House and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), there are three subsidiary operational elements responsible for the direct organization and deployment of federal personnel.
The first is “Operation Legend,” created by the Trump administration to ensure peace and crack down on crime amidst the George Floyd protests, according to White House archives.
The second, “Protecting American Communities Task Force” (PACT) was created to assist in “protecting our nation’s historic monuments, memorials, statues, and federal facilities,” said acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
The third and most alarming is the collective actions taken by federal law enforcement in Portland, Oregon dubbed “Operation Diligent Valor” by the DHS.
In early July, the Gus J. Solomon United States Courthouse in Portland had been the site of protests that local law enforcement feared would get out of hand. According to the Washington Post Operation Diligent Valor primarily sought to remedy this by employing militarized federal forces as a show of strength.
From here, things have begun to further unravel.
Functionally, Operation Diligent Valor has transformed the courthouse into something akin to a war zone. As images and videos of lines of protesters broken and beaten are coming to light, the resolve for change in the face of police brutality is only burning brighter.
Barricades erected stand as just more haunting memorials. As the protesters and law enforcement went back and forth through shot fireworks, make-shift projectiles, rubber bullets, and launched tear gas — the Trump Administration announced the deployment of additional federal law enforcement agents to Portland.
The restless outrage from both sides, however numbing, stings and burns down into the lungs of an uncomfortable truth: the conflicts between those who seek to change unfair and horrible circumstances and those who would venomously oppose them is entirely American.
Federal action against civilian protests are by no means new in the U.S. Often, the most trying of times for Americans seem to warrant federal law enforcement intervention. Take the Rodney King riots, the riots following the death of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Little Rock school desegregation, and now the George Floyd protests as examples.
However, the actions of the Trump Administration have extended beyond what history has shown previous presidents to be capable or foolish enough to pursue.
In a public statement, Trump revealed plans to inject more federal law enforcement in other cities run by “liberal Democrats,” boldly citing the quality of leadership as a chief reason for the civil unrest.
Perhaps due to the massive external pressures or most likely just on a whim, as of Thursday, July 30th, all federal troops have been withdrawn from the Portland courthouse. That very same night, the federal government’s use of excessive and definingly unnecessary force was put to shame.
The next morning, The Guardian reported that protests started and remained peaceful with no major incidents or police intervention, proving a solemn lesson to the Trump administration and to history.