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WNY activists gather in solidarity against federal response in Portland

Ryan Zunner

Western New York activists are standing in solidarity to condemn what they see as an overreaching approach by federal authorities in Portland, Oregon.

The sidewalk of the Jackson Courthouse in Buffalo was the sight of protestors to the federal response to demonstrators in Portland. Reports of unmarked and unidentifiable agents detaining people worries Nigel Bouvart of Workers World Party, who said he’s out protesting to prevent the same from happening locally.

“Here in Buffalo we already have a very high presence of federal agencies, CBP [Customs and Border Protection] and DHS [Homeland Security] is always here because we’re so close to the border,” said Bouvart. “For them to start implementing this policy here would be simple as pie. Even if it didn’t happen here, it is happening in cities across the country, so it’s important we raise awareness.”

The situation in Portland has been tense for weeks. Early Thursday morning, social media videos captured city mayor Ted Wheeler being tear-gassed after speaking to protesters about the presence of federal agents in the city.

Other cities will start to see an increase of federal law enforcement according to President Donald Trump. He told reporters earlier this week “hundreds” of agents will be sent to cities like Chicago, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The Department of Justice is saying those additional officers and their mission is different than what’s going in Portland.

“These agents won’t be patrolling the streets,” U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison told the Associated Press. “They won’t replace or usurp the authority of local officers.”

Speaking to the situation in Portland, Bouvart said the behavior and actions of federal law enforcers is unacceptable.

“They are completely unidentifiable as federal agents, they have no insignia of any agency,” Bouvart said. “They are taking people in unmarked cars to undisclosed locations, and they’re not Mirandizing people.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit seeking to limit the power of federal law enforcement during these protests.

Ryan Zunner joined WBFO in the summer of 2018 as an intern, before working his way up to reporter the following summer.
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