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US politics: Trump rages after supreme court verdict over tax records – live updates

Protesters who have clashed with authorities in the Pacific Northwest are not just confronting local police, report the Associated Press. Some are also facing off against federal officers whose presence reflects Donald Trump’s decision to make cracking down on “violent mayhem” a federal priority. And it means a significant change in role for some officers.

The Department of Homeland Security has deployed officers in tactical gear from around the country, and from more than a half-dozen federal law enforcement agencies and departments, to Portland, Oregon, as part of a surge aimed at what a senior official said were people taking advantage of demonstrations to commit violence and vandalism.






Agents from different components of the Department of Homeland Security are deployed to protect a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon Photograph: Doug Brown/AP

“Once we surged federal law enforcement officers to Portland, the agitators quickly got the message,” said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing operation.

The deployment represents somewhat of a departure for DHS, which was created after the September 11 attacks and is primarily focused on threats from abroad and border security. Now it is in the role of supporting Trump’s law-and-order campaign, raising questions about overstepping the duties of local law enforcement.

Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis said his department did not request the assistance and did not coordinate efforts with the federal government amid often chaotic clashes that have ranged across several downtown blocks after midnight for weeks.

“I don’t have authority to order federal officers to do things,” Davis told AP. “It does complicate things for us.”

Civil liberties advocates and activists have accused federal authorities of overstepping their jurisdiction and an excessive use of crowd-control measures, including using tear gas and patrolling beyond the boundaries of federal property. Portland police are prohibited from using tear gas under a recent temporary court order unless they declare a riot.

“DHS should go back to investigating the rise of white supremacist activity and actors who are seeking to cause violence against these peaceful protests, that is under the purview of the agency’s mission,” said Andrea Flores, the deputy director of immigration policy at the American Civil Liberties Union who was a DHS official during the Obama administration.

Following Trump’s 26 June executive order to protect monuments, DHS created the Protecting American Communities Task Force and sent officers from Customs and Border Protection and other agencies to Washington, D.C., Seattle and Portland.

As local governments in Washington, D.C., and Portland have stepped back to allow space for peaceful demonstrations, the Trump administration has stepped up its effort.

Among the federal forces deployed in Portland are members of an elite Border Patrol tactical team, a special operations unit that is based on the US-Mexico border and has been deployed overseas, including to Iraq and Afghanistan.




Agents clad in military-style uniforms include members of an elite Border Patrol tactical unit, and their deployment to protect federal buildings and monuments is a departure for an agency created to focus on threats from abroad

Agents clad in military-style uniforms include members of an elite Border Patrol tactical unit, and their deployment to protect federal buildings and monuments is a departure for an agency created to focus on threats from abroad Photograph: Doug Brown/AP

Bortac members, identifiable by patches on their camouflage sleeves, were mixed in with the FBS outside the courthouse. Others in the unit, which includes snipers, have been stationed in “overlook” positions on the courthouse’s ninth floor.

A former DHS official said Bortac agents were viewed as “highly trained, valuable, scarce resources” and would typically be used for domestic law enforcement in extraordinary circumstances. “These units don’t normally sit around idle,” said the official, who spoke on condition anonymity. “What did they get pulled off of in order to watch over statues?”

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