Mangino column: Federal law enforcement exercising ‘proactive’ arrests
Columns share an author's personal perspective.
Where is the outrage? The federal government has assembled a secret police force to confront, attack and arrest people for exercising their First Amendment rights. Under the guise of protecting monuments, statues and federal property the White House has declared war on American citizens.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said his agents are now "proactively" arresting people. What? How do you proactively arrest someone? People who are accused of a crime have due process rights. What rights do people have who have been arrested without committing a crime? No one knows, because in this country - until now - people who have not been accused of a crime could not be “proactively” arrested. In other words, in America we don’t arrest people before they’ve done something wrong.
Even GOP Sen. Rand Paul has condemned the incursion of federal agents in Portland, Oregon. He wrote in an op-ed for Reason Magazine, “While I respect the determination to preserve law and order, sending in federal forces to quell civil unrest in Portland further distorts the boundaries, results in more aggression and has led to reports we should never hear in a free country: federal officials, dressed in camouflage, snatching protesters away in unmarked vehicles.”
Oregon’s governor and Portland’s mayor along with other state and local officials have demanded the federal government withdraw the unidentified officers, purportedly wearing military gear and using unmarked vehicles.
Protests in Portland have continued for more than 50 consecutive nights. According to the Washington Post, “Videos of federal officers pelting protesters with less-lethal impact munitions like rubber bullets and exploding pepper balls, shooting tear gas into city streets and launching stun grenades into crowds have captured millions of views on social media and incensed local lawmakers.”
Now, the president has sent federal law enforcement into Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico. As John L. Micek, editor-in-chief of the online Pennsylvania Capital-Star recently wrote, “That's not what a democratically elected president does. Rather, they're the thuggish tactics of a bargain basement Mussolini, a leader who doesn't care how many of our institutions or norms he torches, just as long as he, and his spectacularly corrupt and incompetent clan, can cling to power.”
Harsh words, but who can argue? This isn’t about crime or unrest - it is about politics. As the White House laments the out-of-control violence, David Abrams, a University of Pennsylvania law and economics professor, told NPR that Baltimore, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Chicago have all experienced a drop in crime of more than 30%. Violent crimes such as aggravated assaults and robberies also fell substantially.
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security and recipient of the Bronze Star in Vietnam - who also happens to be a Republican - said recently, “it would be a cold day in hell,” before he'd allow "uninvited" federal forces into one of his cities.
“Arrests require probable cause that a federal crime had been committed, that is, specific information indicating that the person likely committed a federal offense, or a fair probability that the person committed a federal offense,” Orin Kerr, a professor at University of California at Berkeley Law School, told The Post.
Protest, dissent, even raucous political rhetoric has never been probable cause for arrest - at least not in the United States of America.
Michael Dorf a professor at Cornell University told The Associated Press, “(F)ederal authorities are going to swoop in and do whatever they want to do without any cooperation and coordination with state and local authorities is extraordinary outside the context of a civil war.”
A frightening thought, but again who can argue? With a void in leadership, millions of Americans out of work, an out-of-control pandemic and racial tensions not seen in half-a-century anything is possible.
Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.