Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes of the Lawfare blog wrote in The Atlantic about federal police in Portland. Their presence cannot be justified, they wrote.

Thousands of protesters turned out last night in Portland, peaceably rejecting the presence of armed federal agents in their city.

The men in camouflage apparently cone from the Border Patrol and ICE. The authors say they are not trained in crowd control, and a confrontation could easily escalate into violence. Kent State?

They write:

There will be time to sort out the legalities of the federal government’s actions. The attorney general of Oregon has filed suit against various federal agencies and officers involved in one arrest, arguing, “Ordinarily, a person … who is confronted by anonymous men in military-type fatigues and ordered into an unmarked van can reasonably assume that he is being kidnapped and is the victim of a crime.” The American Civil Liberties Union has also sued the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Marshals Service. The chairs of three House committees have requested an internal DHS investigation of the matter. Between these varied proceedings, the Trump administration will have to answer legal questions like whether it’s really okay for unidentified federal officers and agents to patrol streets, and whether an agency whose mission is to patrol the border is properly used without training for crowd control. The administration will also have to justify the propriety of the individual arrests both in any prosecutions of those detained and in any civil suits filed.

But let’s leave the legalities aside for now. Because whether the Trump administration has the technical legal authority to deploy this show of force in this particular matter does not answer the question of whether it should do so. The use of federal officers in this manner is corrosive of democratic culture, it makes for bad and ineffective law enforcement, and it’s likely physically dangerous both for the law-enforcement officers and for the protesters in question.

Meanwhile the thousands of peaceful protesters sitting in the streets of Portland, bracketed by a cordon of Moms wearing helmets, are prepared to stare down the federal police.

And Trump is ready to send similar armed contingents to Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and New York, whose mayors have denounced his threat.

Most see it as a desperate attempt to revive his flagging poll numbers among white suburbanites. Some see it as unconstitutional and an act suggesting a fascist mindset.