I was alarmed last month by two images: federal officers forcibly removing peaceful protesters near St. John’s Church, and, moments later, President Trump posing for a photo op, Bible raised, in front of the same church — evoking messianic images surely meant to cement the image of himself as a divine figure in the minds of his supporters.
But alarm bells are going off again as unidentified, armed “soldiers” descended on Portland, Oregon last week, kidnapping peaceful protesters, forcing them into unmarked vans without telling them why they were detained. We now know these individuals were federal officers sent by the president to make good on his threat to send troops to “democrat-run” cities to maintain “law and order.” Law and order are certainly valued by all Americans but, according to the law, there are limits to the president’s ability to use force against American citizens, unless a state requests such assistance.
In Portland, no such request was made. Perhaps Trump believes he skirted that requirement because those deployed were not military, but other federal officers. Yet none of the participating agencies are charged with local law enforcement.
So this raises a question: under what authority did Trump deploy federal officers? It surely was not the authority of the U.S. Constitution.
Trump’s lawless actions are unnerving. When he faced no consequences for using force in D.C., he tested his limits on a larger scale in Portland. If he gets away with it — if the court does not stop him — what will his next move be? If he can grab Americans off our streets today, when will he send storm troopers to detain reporters, or his political opponents, or … you?