If you’ve never experienced martial law, then go to Portland, Oregon.

The New York Times examines what’s happening there.

The aggressive incursion of federal officers into Portland has been stretching the legal limits of federal law enforcement, as agents with batons and riot gear range deep into the streets of a city whose leadership has made it clear they are not welcome.

Keep in mind these officers were sent to Portland under an executive order from the president…to protect federal buildings and monuments. Read deeper into the Times’ story and you’ll come across this:

There is broad agreement among legal scholars that the federal government has the right to protect its buildings. But how far that authority extends into a city — and which tactics may be employed — is less clear.

Robert Tsai, a professor at the Washington College of Law at American University, said the nation’s founders explicitly left local policing within the jurisdiction of local authorities.

He questioned whether the federal agents had the right to extend their operations blocks away from the buildings they are protecting.

“If the federal troops are starting to wander the streets, they appear to be crossing the line into general policing, which is outside their powers,” Professor Tsai said.

A few concluding points:

  1. I won’t support any violence on the part of the protesters
  2. I won’t support any unprovoked attacks by the officers
  3. If the purpose of their presence is to guard specific buildings and monuments, then the officers must not leave those areas; it’s the responsibility of other law-enforcement agencies to handle what’s happening in the streets
  4. The protesters are facing overwhelming force, which strains anyone’s common sense when it comes to the convenient and flawed “both sides” argument
  5. The large and vocal presence of veterans — who are siding with the protesters — adds credibility to the belief that these officers are engaging in unconstitutional actions
  6. The president cares far more about rallying his troops — his base of voters — than he does protecting monuments