Statement by Attorney General Rosenblum on Denial of Motion for Temporary Restraining Order

July 24, 2020
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Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today issued the following statement on the motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) denied by United States District Judge Michael Mosman. A TRO would have immediately stopped federal authorities from unlawfully detaining Oregonians from the streets of downtown Portland:

“This week we asked the United States District Court for the District of Oregon to grant a temporary restraining order relating to the issue of forcible detention of Oregon residents by federal agents sent to Portland for the alleged purpose of protecting federal property. The stakes in this case are high, and I am disappointed that Judge Mosman did not rule in favor of a TRO and found instead that we lacked standing to bring the case in the first place. I believe all Oregonians have a right to know which federal law enforcement agencies are policing our streets, and why they are detaining peaceful protesters.

“In last Wednesday’s two-hour hearing, the judge expressed concern with the legality of the federal law enforcement tactics we are seeking to stop. While today the court declined to issue an immediate order putting a stop to those tactics, we are, nevertheless, hopeful these abuses will stop and no other Oregonians will be subject to them or to the chilling effect they have on the right to engage in peaceful protest.

“As I argued to the court at the hearing, these are extraordinary times, and very extraordinary circumstances. Ultimately, our goal was to ensure our people’s state and federal constitutional rights are protected. We want our cities to be safe, and we do not want our residents to live in fear of a police-state where people are grabbed off the street by unidentified armed men in unmarked cars and taken away—with no explanation.

“While I respect Judge Mosman, I would ask this question: If the state of Oregon does not have standing to prevent this unconstitutional conduct by unidentified federal agents running roughshod over her citizens, who does? Individuals mistreated by these federal agents can sue for damages, but they can’t get a judge to restrain this unlawful conduct more generally. Today’s ruling suggests that there may be no recourse on behalf of our state, and if so that is extremely troubling.

“I want to thank our Oregon Department of Justice Trial Team including Steve Lippold and Sheila Potter for their extraordinary efforts in a short timeframe. We will continue to seek ways to fight to ensure the rights of every Oregonian to peacefully protest are preserved.”

The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) is led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, and serves as the state’s law firm. The Oregon DOJ advocates for and protects all Oregonians, especially the most vulnerable, such as children and seniors.