July 21, 2020

Duckworth, Durbin Introduce Legislation to Block Federal Paramilitary Occupations in Chicago or Any American City with Senators Merkley & Wyden


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and 17 of their Senate colleagues to block the Trump administration from deploying federal forces as a shadowy paramilitary against Americans. The Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act, which was also introduced as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, comes after a week in which heavily armed, unmarked federal forces in unmarked vehicles were filmed grabbing protesters off the street in Portland, Oregon. 

“What’s happening in Portland, and what could happen in Chicago or any number of cities across the country, is deeply troubling,” Duckworth said. “Law enforcement agents are meant to protect and serve our communities – but the Trump administration is using this as another opportunity to trample on the First Amendment rights of Americans to peacefully assemble and to indiscriminately arrest Americans. I’m proud to help introduce this important legislation with Senators Durbin, Merkley and Wyden to block these dangerous actions and make it clear that we won’t simply let Trump stomp on the rights of any American citizen.”

“The right to peacefully protest is fundamental to our democracy, and Americans should be able to exercise this right without the threat or use of force by members of law enforcement,” said Durbin. “This legislation will preserve the right of the people to peaceably assemble and prevent the President from unnecessarily escalating tension in cities across America.”

Over the past week, unmarked federal forces have deployed munitions and tear gas against protesters in Portland, Oregon, inflaming conflict at a time when local leaders are working to de-escalate friction between protesters and police and has been opposed by Portland’s and Oregon’s elected leaders.

The Preventing Authoritarian Policing Tactics on America’s Streets Act would:

  • Require individual and agency identification on uniforms of officers and prevent unmarked vehicles from being used in arrests.
  • Limit federal agents’ crowd control activities to federal property and its immediate vicinity, unless their presence is specifically requested by both the mayor and governor.
  • Require disclosure on an agency website within 24 hours of deployments specifying the number of personnel and purposes of deployment.
  • Make arrests in violation of these rules unlawful.

In addition to Duckworth, Durbin, Merkley and Wyden, today’s legislation and the Senate NDAA amendment are cosponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Angus King (I-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO).

The full text of the Senate NDAA amendment can be found here.