Stock photo

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Murray, Cantwell propose legislation to block federal law enforcement occupations in cities

Response to recent reports of aggressive policing by agents in Portland

Washington state’s Democratic U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell announced Tuesday that they are co-sponsoring the Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act, which would restrict the Trump administration’s ability to conduct federal law enforcement against Americans.

The legislation comes after a week in which heavily armed, unidentified federal forces in unmarked vehicles have been grabbing protesters off the streets in Portland, Oregon, and over the weekend deployed munitions and tear gas against protesters, according to a news release from Murray and Cantwell.

According to local leaders, the federal incursion has inflamed conflict in Portland at a time when there have been efforts to de-escalate friction between protesters and police, and has been opposed by elected officials in Portland and throughout Oregon. The senators also introduced the legislation as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate is currently debating.

“The inexplicable violence and aggression we’re seeing from federal law enforcement in Portland right now is completely unacceptable, and the brazen Constitutional rights violations on display should deeply concern every American,” Murray said. “Congress must act immediately to protect our constituents and communities against this aggressive executive overreach, no matter where it occurs.”

“One of Americans’ most fundamental rights is the right to protest, and that means being able to protest without unidentified, militarized federal officers being called. This bill protects our First Amendment rights and the safety of all Americans,” Cantwell said.

Specifically, the legislation would:

• Require individual and agency identification on uniforms of officers and prevent unmarked vehicles from being used in arrests.

• Limit federal agents’ crowd control activities to federal property and its immediate vicinity, unless their presence is specifically requested by both the mayor and governor.

• Require disclosure on an agency website within 24 hours of deployments specifying the number of personnel and purposes of deployment.

• Make arrests in violation of these rules unlawful.

In addition to Murray and Cantwell, as well as Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) who authored the legislation, the bill and the Senate NDAA amendment are also cosponsored by: U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).


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