Published: July 22, 2020


SEIU 503, Oregon’s public services and care provider union, released the following statement on federal police in Portland: 

There is a long history in this country of using police and private security forces to suppress unions, break strikes, and intimidate workers who are expressing their First Amendment rights. Knowing this history, every union member should fear what’s happening in Portland right now. 

Peaceful demonstrations in Portland have been a positive – if at times messy – response to the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and other Black people. The demonstrations have had tangible results, moving the city to create new programs and shift resources into projects that will build up Black communities. Public opinion has shifted as well, with a majority of Americans now supporting Black Lives Matter. These changes would not have happened, and future reforms are unlikely to happen, without collective action. 

Over the last two weeks we have seen a frightening overreach from the Trump Administration. Let’s not mince words: Using federal police to stop American citizens from protesting is a violation of the First Amendment and goes against everything we stand for as a free nation.

The presence of federal police in Portland has made a tense situation worse. It has escalated violence, not reduced it. There is no justification. The Trump Administration should reverse course immediately.