A judge in Oregon has issued a temporary restraining order against federal agents in Portland. The move comes amid growing criticism of federal law enforcement in the city.
District Judge Michael H. Simon issued a 14-day order to stop federal agents “arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force” journalists and legal observers. The order does not apply to protesters.
Now: Oregon judge issues TRO against federal agents on the ground in Portland /// 14-day order restricts 'arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force' against journalists and legal observers https://t.co/ojv83d44iu pic.twitter.com/dna9osMOZW
— Mike Scarcella (@MikeScarcella) July 24, 2020
“Without journalists and legal observers, there is only the government’s side of the story to explain why a ‘riot’ was declared and the public streets were ‘closed’ and whether law enforcement acted properly in effectuating that order,” Judge Simon wrote.
“The stated need to protect federal property and the safety of federal officers is not directly affected by allowing journalists and legal observers to stay, observe, and record events,” the judge said.
The 22-page order paints a grim picture of federal actions and contained clear warnings about following the temporary restraining order.
“[T]he Court considers any willful violation of this Order, or any express
direction by a supervisor or commander to disregard or violate this Order, to be a violation of a clearly established constitutional right and thus not subject to qualified immunity in any action brought against any individual employee, officer, or agent of the Federal Defendants,” the document says.
The decision was handed down on Thursday – just a day after the Mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, was teargassed by federal officers after speaking to protesters.
“This is flat-out urban warfare. And it’s being wrought on the people of this country by the president of the United States and it’s got to stop,” Wheeler said.
Darragh Roche is a journalist covering U.S. politics and media