Why don't the Portland police arrest the camouflaged feds?

In the news, unmarked federal agents wearing camouflage have been kidnapping people in Portland, Oregon and generally harrassing peaceful protesters (Federal Agents Push Into Portland Streets, Stretching Limits of Their Authority). The mayor, police chief, governor, and attorney general (among others) have asked that these federal agents leave, but they are still there. Various court cases are in play which would order them out. My question is, can the Portland police just arrest these agents, and if so, why don’t they?

Note sure if this belongs in GQ or IMHO but I’m interested in whether there’s a factual answer for why the police allow this to continue – what was the decision-making process, etc.

They cannot arrest the federal agents without actual proof of them committing actual crimes, which as far as I know they have not yet committed. What makes you think they could do otherwise?

Maybe the police don’t want to defend anti-police protesters. I hope that’s not the reason.

The crime would be deploying on the streets and using weapons, although ordered not to do so by the police commissioner. For example, if I were shooting teargas and beating people I’m sure I would be arrested.

The police commissioner has no legal authority to order that. Federal agents are legally allowed to enforce federal laws anywhere in the US. They are legally allowed to be armed and use force, if they can justify it in court.


Federal agents can enforce federal laws and don’t have to obey the police commissioner. Even if you don’t agree with how Trump is utilizing Federal agents (and I don’t) it is legal. If the police Commissioner ordered Federal agents not to investigate his police department for corruption/civil rights violations do think its a good idea?

If a Federal Agent was driving with a .08 BAC yes the local police could arrest them. Or any other state/local crime.

answer is better suited to GD

They’re wearing outfits that do not identify who they are, and when asked (by regular people) they would not identify themselves. What prevents any random group of people from going out and rampaging, and claiming they’re federal agents?

Along those lines, could someone kill one of these cops and then successfully plead self-defense on the grounds of he had no way of knowing who this guy was who was assaulting him?

If two ATF agents knocked on you door in plain clothes, showed their badge, showed their credentials, how would you know they are federal agents? Are you an expert on what a ATF badge looks like?

If 50 heavily armed men/women are surrounding a federal courthouse…I’d kinda assume they were federal Agents.

Can I not pull over for a traffic violation by local police because “how do I know that not just some guy that bought a Crown Vic”

Perhaps not arrest but possibly detain? Isn’t that exactly what the federal agents are doing?

Most likely yes, as he would be arguing his case to St. Peter.

In the unlikely event that he survived, though, it is his word against a federal agent’s as to whether or not they identified themselves properly.

Yes, but that is not what is happening when those federal agents then drive around in unmarked vehicles and accost people well away from the courthouse.

Yes, you may proceed to the next exit and turn into a gas station or other populated place.

It is up to you to stop your car where both you and the cop will be safe.

No, it’s not an arrest, it’s a mandatory Lyft.

This wouldn’t hold up in court. By this logic, anyone being arrested by a plainclothes cop could do the same.

good luck with that

If a plainclothes cop is arresting someone they’d identify themselves as police, show their ID, and explain why you’re being arrested. These federal agents are not doing any of that.

Have you ever in your life seen a “Federal Agent” marked vehicle? Maybe INS near the border. Is there a “Federal Agent” uniform? They aren’t cops.

Okay, thanks…?

I tend to think it’s just an attempt to avoid further escalation.

Can anyone tell me a reason why they legally can’t detain them to make sure they really are federal agents and have the authority to act as they are?

Sure, I as a victim wouldn’t be in the best place to determine whether they are legitimate. It’s generally better for me to comply. But we’re not talking about the victims, but the cops, who have been made aware of acts that possibly violate state law.

And that’s without getting into whether being a federal agent makes them immune to state law, rather than just empowering them with certain exceptions as long as they follow federal law. I would like citations for exactly what exemptions federal agents have.

I do know that they can only go after people who they have sufficient cause to believe violated federal law or to protect federal property. If they do otherwise, and their actions violate state law, can the state act in ways other than suing them?

Still, my main argument is that the cops should be able to detain unmarked people to ascertain they actually are feds and have the authority to be in their state.