With so many disturbing events in the country, it would be easy to be overwhelmed and not shine a light on everything that needs light shined on it.
Not only is this country dealing with a worsening pandemic, but civil unrest the likes of which haven’t been seen since the 1960s has polarized our citizens.
Protests in Portland, Oregon, became especially concerning when federal agents entered the picture in unmarked vehicles, seizing protesters off the streets.
Mark Pettibone, a 29-year-old demonstrator, told The Washington Post he was seized while walking home from a peaceful protest, taken to the federal courthouse and placed in a holding cell. The vehicles and the nondescript uniforms worn by the agents did not link them to a specific agency or government. He was read his Miranda rights. Shortly, he was released. He was never told why he was detained or whether he was charged with a crime. Pettibone also said he did not know who had detained him.
While legal experts challenge whether the arrests during protests were legal, we have other questions.
Was Pettibone the only detainee or are there others we don't know about?
If he wasn’t the only one, who were the others? Where are they now? Did they have a similar experience or a more trying one?
If Pettibone was the only detainee, why was he singled out?
Who, in fact, were the agents sent to snatch protesters off the street? Why were they sent? Why did they not properly identify themselves?
Whether you’re left or right, liberal or conservative or middle of the road, everyone should be concerned. As Americans, we have the right to peacefully assemble; it is guaranteed in the First Amendment.
By all counts, these protesters were peaceful. Mayors in Portland and Chicago, where agents could be deployed in the near future, have said they won’t stand for such treatment of protesters.
It’s scary to think our leaders could be at odds in a potentially violent situation such as this.
It’s also scary to think exercising your rights could get you detained, even if briefly. A short but frightening detention is unacceptable and could lead to appalling conclusions. It’s a threat to our freedoms that no one should condone. The fact that so many questions linger only supports the idea that we have something to fear.