Democrats Own All the Tactics Now -- Portland Police Resume 'Kettling' of Protesters near Federal Courthouse

AP Photo/Noah Berger

As noted earlier today in this story, protest activity has picked up again in Portland over the past two nights. Some of those events were reported here and here.  On Thursday the federal government took down the barriers and fencing that had surrounded the Hatfield Federal Courthouse going back to last summer when nightly protests and riots led by Antifa and BLM targeted the building.  As soon as the barriers came down, protesters returned, breaking out windows and setting fires where they could.

Those pictures and videos were from Thursday night.  Here is what it looked like during the day on Friday.

I’m guessing it wasn’t “Rules for Radicals” that were posted by DHS on the outside of the building.

As noted by Nick Arama in the article earlier, the Portland Police employed what is called the “kettling” technique of crowd control — surrounding and “boxing in” everyone in a small geographic location with all exit points blocked.  This is a controversial legal tactic, as it amounts to a “dragnet” of all persons in proximity to a particular location — in this case the location where the protest is happening — without any “individualized” knowledge or suspicion that persons being detained have participated in illegal activity of any kind.

Police don’t make any effort at the outset to distinguish between protesters, bystanders, passers-by, legal observers, or journalists in the crowd as it is surrounded and herded into a location where it can be contained while police conduct an investigation for disorderly conduct.  The process being used involves police photographing each person in the detained group one at a time and recording their identification.

The ACLU has sued over this police tactic in the past by claiming that detaining a large crowd based on nothing more than their physical proximity to protest activities doesn’t involve the kind of individualized probable cause or reasonable suspicion necessary to lawfully detain someone who is merely present at a protest location.  Instead, the ACLU has argued that such a tactic is a pretext to stop and identify protesters without any justification.

Reporting and video from Friday night show the Portland Police executing a “kettling” tactic in “detaining” an entire city block, and holding everyone — protesters, bystanders, and press — in a small area while putting duct tape on each person’s torso with the names and biographical information, and then taking their picture.  Sort of an “on-site” mugshot-taking process.  Two reporters who were subjected to this treatment, even after identifying themselves and claiming they were only present to report on events and not participate in them, captured some of what happened to them in real-time.

Two lawsuits filed in federal court in Oregon involving the use of “kettling” by Portland Police during protests in 2017 were recently dismissed, based on a finding that the procedure — when employed correctly — is only a temporary investigative detention and not an “arrest” which would require probable cause.  Those dismissals only came this past January, but likely have been seen by local authorities as authorization to return to this tactic in response to the protests of the past two nights.

It seems that unless those cases are appealed, the procedures being employed are likely lawful — but as noted, the lawfulness is going to be “fact-specific.”  How long was the detention, how quickly were the officers able to distinguish protesters from bystanders or the press, what was the purpose for recording the identities of persons merely present, etc.

But the cheerleaders for the protesters in the summer of 2020 must now decide if they are going to continue to be cheerleaders for the protesters in 2021.  Oregon law enforcement is commanded at every level by liberal democrats.  The cheerleaders can no longer point to the Trump Administration as responsible for the conduct of federal law enforcement agencies protecting and securing the federal building in Portland.

Will those cheerleaders among the political class, as well as the press and punditocracy simply go quiet now that their ideological allies are the ones employing these tactics?

Time will tell.