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Tag: Oregon

Black ATF Agent Sues ATF Again After Settling Lawsuit over Nazi-Tattooed Colleague

ATF Agent Bradford Devlin with a Nazi-themed tattoo, via U.S. District Court.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A black ATF supervisor who receive $450,000 to settle a lawsuit in which she claims the agency discriminated against her after she launched complaints about another supervisor with a Nazi-themed tattoo has sued the agency again.

Cheryl Bishop, a senior supervisor agent in Seattle and former bomb-dog handler, alleges in the latest lawsuit that she was smeared and retaliated against after the settlement in the first case was published in a newspaper, The Seattle Times reports.

According to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Bradford Devlin, the supervisor who was previously accused of abusive, racist behavior, was back at it again, sending an email to 150 ATF employees in which he defended himself and used racist tropes and false allegations against Bishop. Devlin is the resident agent in charge of the ATF’s Eugene, Oregon’s, office.

The lawsuit alleges the ATF’s failure to discipline Devlin or address his racist action led to more abuse.

“The Government’s repeated failure to discipline its employees for violating the law, unsurprisingly, leaves them to feeling free to do so again and again,” Bishop’s Seattle lawyer, Jesse Wing, said. “The Agency’s behavior, shrugging off continued defiant acts of race harassment and retaliation committed by a known racist supervisor in its ranks, reflects the need for fundamental change at ATF.”

The ATF declined to comment.

In the previous lawsuit, Bishop alleged the ATF scuttled her appointment to a job at Washington D.C.’s headquarters after she blew the whistle on abusive behavior by Devlin and complained about a Nazi-themed tattoo on his arm.

Devlin, who is now the senior supervisor in ATF’s Seattle Field Division, denied being abusive and says he got the Nazi tattoo while working undercover investigating an outlaw white-supremacist biker gang in Ohio.

Although the agency offered to pay for the removal of the tattoo, Devlin decided to keep it, calling it a “war trophy.”

Comey: Sending Uninvited Federal Officers to Cities Is ‘Dumb And Self-Defeating’

James Comey via FBI.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The presence of camouflage-clad federal officers in cities like Portland, against the wishes of local and state authorities, threatens to sever the longstanding relationships between federal law enforcement and communities.

So says former FBI Director James Comey in a column for The Washington Post.

“‘The FBI does nothing alone’ is how I often explained our dependence upon partnerships with local and state law enforcement,” Comey wrote. “The willingness of cities, counties and states to contribute their resources — most importantly, their people — to our task forces was at the heart of the FBI’s and DEA’s success. Town councils and mayors around the country supported those relationships because they trusted us.”

He added, “The costs to federal law enforcement will be enormous.”

President Trump has pledged to send federal law enforcement officers to cities where protests have broken out. In Portland, images of federal officers in full tactical gear clashing with protesters have enraged protesters and local and state officials, raising serious questions about Trump’s motives.

“So it’s dumb and self-defeating on many levels for the feds to engage the way they have in Portland,” Comey wrote. “No sensible law enforcement leader would approach it this way. Which begs a question: Is televised conflict the goal?”

Comey warned that the consequences could be long-lasting and devastating.

“The only thing damaged in the process will be the United States and the federal law enforcement agencies our country needs,” Comey wrote. “Yet again, the craving of our president for reelection seems to override everything.”

Memo: Federal Agents in Portland Not Adequately Trained in Riot Control Or Mass Demonstrations

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal agents who were sent to Portland to quell protests were not adequately trained in riot control or mass demonstrations, Homeland Security warned in an internal memo.

The memo, dated Thursday, was written for acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who criticized local officials’ handling of protests that resulted in property damage at federal buildings, The New York Times reports.

The presence of federal officers has drawn widespread criticism and lawsuits after videos circulated on social media showing the officers in camouflage grabbing protesters from the streets and loading them into unmarked minivans.

“Moving forward, if this type of response is going to be the norm, specialized training and standardized equipment should be deployed to responding agencies,” the memo warns.

Among those sent to Portland were tactical agents from a group known as BORTAC, a SWAT-type team that typically investigates drug smuggling organizations, not protests.

Homeland Security spokesman Alexei Woltornist said the federal agents received “additional training for their deployment in the city” to help the Federal Protective Service.

The sight of federal officers shooting tear gas and non-lethal projectiles at protesters appears to have escalated “fear and violence” in the city, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosemblum argued in a lawsuit filed Friday against Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, and CBP.

Federal Officers in Unmarked Vans Are Seizing Protesters in Portland without Explanation

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Federal officers in camouflage and unmarked minivans are detaining protesters in Portland without the approval of local and state officials.

Videos posted on social media show federal officers grabbing protesters off the street without explanation and driving off with them in unmarked vehicles.

Since early July, officers with U.S. Marshals, Federal Protective Service, Customs and Border Protection, and Homeland Security Investigations have been in Portland, ostensibly to protect federal buildings.

But federal officers “are also detaining people on Portland streets who aren’t near federal property, nor is it clear that all of the people being arrested have engaged in criminal activity,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

Civil rights attorneys question the tactics, saying the federal officers appear to be violating protesters’ rights to due process.

“It’s like stop and frisk meets Guantanamo Bay,” attorney Juan Chavez, director of the civil rights project at the Oregon Justice Resource Center, says, calling the arrests “terrifying.”

“You have laws regarding probable cause that can lead to arrests,” he says. “It sounds more like abduction. It sounds like they’re kidnapping people off the streets.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said he was not happy with the presence of federal law enforcement.

“We’re aware that they’re here. We wish they weren’t,” Wheeler tweeted Thursday evening. “We haven’t been invited to meet with them, and if we were, we would decline.”

On Saturday night, a protester was seriously injured when a federal agent fired a crowd-control weapon at him outside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was in Portland on Thursday and criticized the mayor and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat.

“Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days by a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city,” Wolf said in a news release. “Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it.”

Wolf released a list of property crimes involving federal buildings.

“This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law. DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them. Again, I reiterate the Department’s offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists,” Wolf said.

Wheeler said the federal officers are escalating tensions by using “life-threatening tactics,” accusing President Trump and Wheeler of “weaponizing the DHS as their own occupying army to provoke violence.”

Portland Police Stop ICE Agents from Using Bureau Center for Training

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

ICE agents are no longer allowed to use the firing range and classroom space at its training center in Portland after police abruptly terminated a two-year contract.

The Portland Police Bureau alerted the agency in a Sept. 19 letter that the city was halting an agreement for ICE to use the training center in Northeast Portland, Oregon Live reports.

The contract, signed in 2018, wasn’t supposed to expire until August 2020.

“After an internal review, the Portland Police Bureau is no longer allowing use of its Training Division facility by a portion of the United States Department of Homeland Security because the use of the facility must be consistent with the City’s values and Federal, State, and local laws,” the Police Bureau said in a statement Wednesday.

The city of Portland passed a resolution that prevents the city from using resources to enforce federal immigration law.

“The use of PPB’s training facility by other law enforcement agencies should be consistent with City values,” Chief Danielle Outlaw said in the statement.

“A mistake was made due to miscommunication during the contract approval process. When the oversight was brought to our attention, we took immediate action,” she added.

FBI Agent Shot by Booby-Trapped Wheelchair in House Rigged with Explosives

Gregory Rodvelt has been charged with rigging the house with explosives.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

An FBI special agent was shot by a booby-trapped wheelchair in a house rigged with explosive devices in southern Oregon.

“I’m hit!” the federal agent yelled as he profusely bled from his leg, the Oregonian reports, citing court records that described the house as “a scene from the movie ‘Indiana Jones.’” 

The agent and three Oregon state police bomb technicians were called to the house by a real estate lawyer who was responsible for selling the property in Williams, a town of 2,200 people.

Gregory Rodvelt, the 66-year-old man accused of placing elaborate and deadly booby traps throughout the house, has been charged in federal court with a felony count of assault on a federal officer.

The agent was injured when one of the law enforcement officials moved a wheelchair near the door, causing it fire a shotgun blast.

The driveway, mini-van and garage also were rigged with booby-traps.

Oregon Jury Acquits FBI Agent of Lying About Firing Weapon in Death of Robert ‘LaVoy’ Finicum

Robert “LaVoy” Finicum was shot and killed by police during the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Federal prosecutors took a big hit on Friday in a Portland, Ore., courtroom.

A federal jury found FBI agent W. Joseph Astarita not guilty after about six hours of deliberations over two days. He was accused of lying to conceal that he fired two shots at the truck of refuge occupation spokesman Robert “LaVoy” Finicum in January 2016.

Astarita, 41, a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team, looked straight ahead but squeezed the hands of defense lawyers Robert Cary and Meghan Ferguson sitting on either side of him as the court clerk read the verdicts about 2:45 p.m., according to a report in The Oregonian newspaper.

Once the jury left, the attorneys hugged Astarita.

A 37-year-old married father of two from a Portland suburb who sat the jury told Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian:

“I feel it’s possible someone is lying. I don’t know which side, or who, or it could be both. There’s still two unattributed shots, and I feel like we’re never going to know for sure who took them.”

He also said he “felt like a pendulum going back and forth during the trial — from ‘oh man, he definitely did it’ and then ‘well, maybe, he didn’t.”’

 

Jury Acquits FBI Agent Accused of Firing Gun During Oregon Standoff

FBI photo of the shooting of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during the 2016 armed standoff.

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A federal jury has acquitted an FBI agent accused of lying to investigators about whether he fired his gun twice at a militia elder involved in the armed takeover of an Oregon wildlife refuge.

The jury on Friday found Agent Joseph Astarita not guilty of obstruction and making false statements.

The 41-year-old agent repeatedly denied he fired his weapon at Robert “LaVoy” Finicum because he was worried about crossfire.

Astarita’s attorney, David Angeli, told CNN that prosecutors lacked eyewitness and ballistic evidence that would show the agent fired his service weapon in during the 2016 standoff. 

“We are grateful to the men and women of the jury who saw through a case that never should have been brought,” Angeli and another defense attorney Rob Cary said in a statement.

At the time of the alleged shooting, the FBI was told to hold fire while local and state law enforcement handled Finicum, who led police on a chase in his pickup and was then shot by state police after he appeared to reach for his gun.

The jury was focused on who fired two errant shots, not who killed Finicum because the deadly force was deemed justified.

Astarita’s lawyers argued that alleged evidence against the agent was the result of lies from the “reckless” actions of one Oregon State Police trooper who fired most of the shots and later changed his story.