Rep. Ben McAdams said Thursday that scenes of federal law enforcement agents clashing with protesters in Portland were jarring, and raised serious questions about the constitutionality of those forces being deployed to an American city.
“I worry that what seems to be happening is the federal presence seems to be escalating tensions,” said McAdams during an appearance on Fox and Friends. “Where the federal presence seems to be escalating tension, that is counterproductive. I want to see officials working together. If a federal presence is needed, let’s have our local officials work together to de-escalate and bring it back together.”
The Trump administration sent more than 100 federal law enforcement officers to Portland to protect federal buildings that have been damaged during protests against police brutality and racial inequality. On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said he was expanding the federal police presence to more cities including Chicago and Alberquerque.
McAdams said he would support using federal law enforcement so long as local officials ask for that help. Local officials in Portland did not ask for federal help.
There have been reports that the federal officers in the Pacific northwest have been scooping protesters off the street and detaining them without probable cause for their arrest. McAdams said, if true, that raises some serious constitutional questions for him.
McAdams added he does not support protests that utilize violence or vandalism.
“In Utah we have been able to calm down the unrest and bring it back to a peaceful protest where people are demonstrating things they feel strongly about and our communities are safe and the voices of the protesters are being raised in a safe way. This is what I want to see, political leaders who are not escalating tension, but working to de-escalate and restore a sense of calm and respect as we work to address difficult challenges in the country,” he said.