Homeland Security Acting Like ‘An Occupying Army’ Says Sen. Wyden, After Federal Agents Shoot Peaceful Portland Protester

Reason – by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

Federal law enforcement agencies “are surging resources” in protest areas. A young man was hospitalized Saturday and required facial reconstruction surgery after being shot in the head by an impact munition that federal agents fired into a crowd of peaceful protesters in Portland, Oregon. The agents were there to carry out a recent executive order, framed by the White House as a move to protect national parks and monuments. 

Twenty-six-year-old Donavan LaBella was holding a speaker above his head across from the federal courthouse in downtown Portland when one of a group of camouflage-clad federal agents threw some sort of smoking, flashing canister at him. LaBella rolled the canister away from this feet, into an empty portion of the street, then held up the speaker again. Suddenly there was a loud bang, then some sort of impact munition (a.k.a. “firearm-delivered projectiles,” such as rubber bullets or bean bags) flying through the air. Then LaBella falls to the ground. Other protesters come to his aid and drag him out of the street.

Video captured the whole horrifying incident.


“An American has been shot and sent to the hospital for apparently exercising his right of free speech,” marveled Steven Strauss, a visiting professor at Princeton.

Donavan’s mom, Desiree LaBella, told Oregon Public Broadcasting that her son had sustained skull and facial fractures and had to have facial reconstruction surgery. As of Sunday morning, he was responding to doctors and able to move his arms and legs.

“Desiree LaBella said she planned to contact an attorney Monday for a possible lawsuit on behalf of her son,” reports Oregon Public Broadcasting. “She spoke to her son via computer late Sunday morning and said that while he was awake, doctors were monitoring his neurological condition and continuing work to drain blood from his brain.”

The U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement that it was “aware of the incident” and it was “currently being investigated.”

What happened to Donovan LaBella demonstrates “the consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally dispatching fed’l law enforcement into U.S. cities,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted on Sunday. “Trump & Homeland Security must now answer why fed’l officers are acting like an occupying army.”

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official told NPR that hundreds of federal agents—including members of the U.S. Marshals’ Special Operations Group, as well as a Border Patrol Tactical Unit—had been deployed in Portland and elsewhere around the country as part of Trump’s June 26 executive order. DHS “sent officers to Portland; Seattle; Washington, D.C.; and Gettysburg National Park in Pennsylvania, according to a DHS official who spoke on background.”

At a military briefing in Florida last Friday, President Donald Trump asked for an update on protests in Portland, saying to the DHS head “we sent you there recently….And you people are handling it very nicely.”

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told Trump “we should have more support of the local police there. But again, the Department of Homeland Security, along with the DOJ, FBI and others are surging resources and we’re starting to make a difference there.”

NPR notes that “Wolf claimed there had been violence against officers in Portland. DHS later clarified Wolf was referring to fireworks shot toward officers as well as protesters pointing lasers at federal police. Several protesters in Portland were charged with assault on a federal officer because of those actions.”


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