Oregon Gov. Kate Brown is up in arms after camouflaged federal agents were discovered to be patrolling the streets of Portland, inciting violence and abducting protesters in what she described as a naked attempt by the Trump administration to provoke violence for political gain.
"Trump is looking for a confrontation in Oregon in the hopes of winning political points in Ohio or Iowa," Brown, a Democrat, tweeted Thursday night. She accused Donald Trump and his administration of seeking to portray racial justice protests as dangerous uprisings to help get his base out to the polls.
Brown added that acting-Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf is "on a mission to provoke confrontation for political purposes," and in the process is "putting both Oregonians and local law enforcement officers in harm's way."
Protests have been taking place in Portland for weeks, as demonstrators are demanding a change in policing in the wake of the deaths of multiple Black Americans at the hands of white police officers.
Trump has tried to distort the image of the many peaceful protests across the country, painting them as violent and destructive.
"The violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats, in every case, is the predictable result of years of extreme indoctrination and bias in education, journalism, and other cultural institutions," Trump said in a dark and divisive speech at Mount Rushmore on July 3.
Echoing Trump's messaging, Wolf put out a press release on Thursday with the clearly untrue claim that Portland has been "under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob."
He also tweeted images of himself speaking to camouflaged officers with the text, "We will never surrender to violent extremists on my watch," and images of what he said was the product of those "violent extremists" — which ended up being graffiti on some walls.
But few of the incidents Wolf used as evidence of violence were actually violent. Most were just reports of graffiti on buildings or attempts to breech fencing around federal property.
In fact, crime data from Portland shows that reported offenses are actually down in the city from previous years.
Ultimately, Trump's dark message of violence hasn't seemed to help him in the polls.
Trump is currently losing to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden by 9 points, according to FiveThirtyEight's average.
Data scientist David Shor said in an interview with New York magazine that Trump's numbers started to fall after he tear-gassed peaceful protesters across from the White House in order to stage a photo-op with a bible.
"The real inflection point in our polling was the Lafayette Park incident, when Trump used tear gas on innocent people," Shor said. "That's when support for Biden shot up and it's been pretty steady since then."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.