Across social media platforms, Portland demonstrators protesting police brutality are sharing videos of people armed with guns, protective vests, zip ties, and face coverings who are approaching citizens on the street, grabbing them, and shoving them into non-government marked cars, rather than readily identifiable police cars. Citizens and observers have taken to referring to these militias as the Gestapo, the former secret police of Germany during the nazi regime. The Gestapo was a conglomerate of various police and security forces that eventually rose to become a nationwide force.
The Gestapo ended officially in the 1940s, not to mention the fact that they existed in an entirely different country. Which begs the question, who are the unidentified militias in Portland, and what are they doing? To start, these militias are not members of the United States military, as martial law has not been declared in Portland. Eliminating this option, the unidentified people are most likely domestic federal agents. In a recent tweet, Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, shared a photo of agents in similar attire to the militia deployed in Portland, with the message, “We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch.”
In an online press release dated July 1, Wolf announced DHS was creating the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT). Wolf cited that president Trump approved the task force. Many will note that Trump cannot deploy the military on U.S. citizens, pursuant to the Posse Comitatus Act. Deploying DHS instead is a way around that statute. The task force, according to the DHS website, intends to protect, “our nation’s historic monuments, memorials, statues, and federal facilities.” In various videos circulating on the internet, citizens are being grabbed and placed in cars, despite not being in the vicinity of a historic monument, memorial, statue, or federal facility. In the video below, people dressed in tactical gear approach a citizen who immediately puts their hands up. They are then detained and placed in a non-government issued vehicle then driven away.
Portland may not be the only city. Reports from Seattle, D.C., and Chicago share similar stories of agents, sometimes with badges, sometimes without, snatching citizens off the streets one by one without identifying themselves, or even communicating with citizens why they are being arrested. This is illegal and violates citizens’ sixth amendment rights. Furthermore, without identification, detained citizens have no way of knowing if they are being arrested by official agents, or kidnapped by vigilante groups.
UPDATE: As of 6:26 PM EST, it has been confirmed by Customs & Border Protection that they were responsible for detaining the person in the above video. Combined with Homeland Security, this makes two confirmed governmental entities who are patrolling cities and possibly arresting citizens.