- Protests in Portland have been renewed since the Trump administration deployed federal agents to the city to crack down on the ongoing demonstrations against racism and injustice.
- Since being sent to the city, the federal officers have clashed with protestors violently, deploying tear gas and less-than-lethal munitions, and driving around in unmarked cars detaining people.
- The deployment has been highly criticized by state and local leaders, who have repeatedly asked for them to be withdrawn. Administration officials have refused to remove the agents, arguing that their presence is necessary.
- In response, the protestors have begun demonstrating against the federal agents, and over the weekend, Portland saw some of the largest protests in weeks.
- Over the weekend, the federal agents responded forcefully to the new protests. In one now-viral video, a group made a “wall of mothers” to create a human shield between the protesters and law enforcement before they were tear-gassed by the feds.
- Protestors have also engaged in violence as well, setting a police union building on fire Saturday and throwing projectiles at the officers.
Violence erupted again at protests in Portland, Oregon throughout the weekend amid heightened scrutiny over the decision by the Donald Trump administration to deploy federal law enforcement agents to the city.
Demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality have been ongoing in the city since the death of George Floyd in late May, though they began to dwindle after a few weeks.
However, those movements recently regained momentum after the Trump administration sent agents from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Marshals Service to the city at the beginning of July to crack down on protesters.
The move came as part of an executive order signed by President Trump at the end of June to protect federal statues and direct DHS to create a new task force.
Since their deployment, the federal agents have continually and violently clashed with the protestors. They repeatedly fired munitions at protestors and deployed tear gas, despite a ruling from a federal judge prohibiting Portland police from doing the same unless they declare a riot.
Last week, the situation caught the eye of the national media when Oregon Public Broadcasting (OBP), reported that unidentified federal law enforcement agents in unmarked vehicles had been grabbing protesters off the street since at least July 14.
The report, which was supported by multiple videos and personal accounts, was later confirmed Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, who told NPR on Thursday that that federal agent had used unmarked vehicles to pick up people in Portland in order to keep officers safe and to move detainees to a “safe location for questioning.”
That information renewed criticism from state and local leaders, who have repeatedly demanded that the administration withdraw the federal agents. However, top DHS officials have doubled-down, continually refusing to remove the feds and scapegoating the local leaders.
In a highly charged press release issued Thursday, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf claimed that it is the local leaders, not the feds, that are making the situation worse. He also defended their presence in the city, arguing that some protestors have been destroying a federal court house, which is federal property.
“A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice – to attack it is to attack America” he said. “Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day.”
“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,” he continued, before going on to describe the “lawless destruction and violence” that has happened over the last six weeks in a list where he uses the phrase “violent anarchists” 72 times.
Cuccinelli also made similar remarks to NPR on Thursday.
“I fully expect that as long as people continue to be violent and to destroy property that we will attempt to identify those folks,” he said. “We will pick them up in front of the courthouse. If we spot them elsewhere, we will pick them up elsewhere.”
“That’s standard law enforcement procedure, and it’s going to continue as long as the violence continues.”
Videos Go Viral From Protests
While the Trump administration has firmly said it will ignore the demands of local leaders and keep the feds in Portland, the protests have now grown and evolved in response to those agents staying in the city.
According to reports, upwards of 1,000 people showed up to demonstrations this weekend—marking the largest crowd the city has seen in weeks— and producing several now-viral videos.
In one instance, a group made “a wall of mothers” forming a human shield between the protesters and law enforcement officials. They then stood their ground for a few hours, until the feds began using tear gas and flash bangs to break up the crowd.
In another notable moment, a Navy vet named Chris David called out a group of federal officers, reportedly after they rushed a line of protesters and knocked them to the ground.
“Why are you not honoring your oath? Why are you not honoring your oath to the Constitution?” David asks, walking up to the officers, who proceeded to beat him with a baton and sprayed chemical irritants into his face. According to reports, his hand was broken in two spots.
Notably, there were also some instances of protesters becoming violent. On Saturday, Portland police declared a riot after the police union building was broken into and lit on fire. Protestors also tore down fencing around the federal courthouse.
President Trump, for his part, has repeatedly praised the federal law enforcement officers in Portland and indicated that he would like to increase their presence in other U.S. cities.
On Sunday, Trump defended the decision to utilize the agents in a tweet.
“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” he wrote. “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”
See what others are saying: (NPR) (The New York Times) (USA Today)
CDC Data Shows Booster Shots Provide Effective Protection Against Omicron
Public health experts have encouraged Americans to get boosted to protect themselves against the omicron variant, but less than 40% of fully vaccinated people who are eligible for their third shot have received it.
A First Glimpse of Official Data on Boosters and Omicron
COVID-19 booster shots are effective at preventing Americans from contracting omicron and protecting those who do become infected from severe illness, according to three reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published Friday.
The reports mark the first real-world data regarding the highly infectious variant and how it has impacted the U.S.
One of the CDC reports, which studied data from 25 state and local health departments, found that there were 149 cases per 100,000 people among those had been boosted on average each week.
In comparison, the figure was 255 cases per 100,000 people in Americans who had only received two shots.
Another study that looked at nearly 88,000 hospitalizations in 10 states found that the third doses were 90% effective at preventing hospitalization.
By contrast, those who received just two shots were only 57% protected against hospitalization by the time they were eligible for a booster six months after their second dose.
Additionally, the same report also found that the boosters were 82% effective at preventing visits to emergency rooms and urgent care centers, a marked increase from the 38% efficacy for those who were six months out from their two-shot regime and had not yet received a third.
Low Booster Shot Vaccination Rates
Public health officials hope that the new data will urge more Americans to get their booster shots.
Since the emergence of omicron, experts and leading political figures have renewed their efforts to encourage people to get their third shots, arguing they are the best form of protection.
The CDC currently recommends that everyone 12 and older get a booster shot five months after their second shot of Pfizer and Moderna or two months after receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Still, in the U.S., less than 40% of fully vaccinated individuals eligible for a third shot have gotten one.
While COVID cases in the country have begun to drop over the past several days from their peak of over 800,000 average daily infections, the figures are still nearly triple those seen in the largest previous surges.
Hospitalizations have also slowly begun to level out over the last week in places that were hit first, such as New York City and Boston, but medical resources still remain strained in many parts of the country that experienced later surges and have not yet seen cases slow.
Some experts predict that the U.S. will see a sharp decline in omicron cases, as experienced in South Africa and Britain. Still, they urge American’s to get boosted to ensure their continued protection from the variant, as well as other strains that will emerge.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (CNN) (The New York Times)
California Bill Would Allow Kids 12 and Up to Get Vaccinated Without Parental Consent
Nearly one million California teens and preteens between the ages of 12 and 17 are not vaccinated against COVID-19.
State Senator Proposes Legislation
Legislation proposed in California on Thursday would allow children age 12 and up to get vaccinated without parental consent.
State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) introduced Bill 866 in the hope it could boost vaccination rates among teenagers. According to Wiener, nearly one million kids aged 12- to 17-years old remain unvaccinated against COVID-19 in the state of California.
“Unvaccinated teens are at risk, put others at risk & make schools less safe,” Wiener tweeted. “They often can’t work, participate in sports, or go to friends’ homes.”
“Many want to get vaccinated but parents won’t let them or aren’t making the time to take them. Teens shouldn’t have to rely on parents’ views & availability to protect themselves from a deadly virus.”
Currently, teens in California can receive vaccines for human papillomavirus and hepatitis B without parental consent. They can also make other reproductive or mental healthcare choices without a guardian signing off. Wiener argues that their medical autonomy should expand to all vaccines, especially during a pandemic that has already killed roughly 78,000 Californians.
Vaccine Consent Across the U.S.
“Teens shouldn’t have to plot, scheme or fight with their parents to get a vaccine,” he said. “They should simply be able to walk in & get vaccinated like anyone else.”
Bill 866 would allow any kids ages 12 and up to receive any vaccine approved or granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration and recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, Pfizer’s COVID vaccine has been fully approved by the FDA for those 16 and older. It has received emergency authorization for ages five through 15.
Across the United States, vaccine consent ages vary. While the vast majority of states require parental approval for minors to be vaccinated against COVID-19, kids as young as 11 can get the jab on their own in Washington, D.C. In Alabama, kids can receive it without parental consent at 14, in Oregon at 15, and in Rhode Island and South Carolina at 16. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, providers can waive consent in certain cases in Arkansas, Idaho, Washington, and Tennesee.
In October, California became the first state to announce plans to require that students receive the COVID-19 vaccine to attend class. The mandate has yet to take effect, but under the guidelines, students will be “required to be vaccinated for in person learning starting the term following FDA full approval of the vaccine for their grade span.”
In other words, once the FDA gives a vaccine full approval for those aged 12 and up, it will be required the following session for kids in grades 7-12. Once it does so for kids as young as five, the same process will happen for children in kindergarten through sixth grade. There will also be room for exemptions from the mandate.
The Fight to Vaccinate California
This week, a group of California state legislators formed a Vaccine Work Group in order to boost public health policies in the state. Wiener is among the several members who are “examining data, hearing from experts, and engaging stakeholders to determine the best approaches to promote vaccines that have been proven to reduce serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19.”
“Vaccines protect not only individuals but also whole communities when almost everyone is vaccinated at schools, workplaces and businesses, and safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have already prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans,” Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said in a press release. “Public safety is a paramount duty of government, and I am proud to join a talented group of legislators in the pro-science Vaccine Work Group who want to end this disastrous pandemic and protect Californians from death and disability by preventable diseases.”
While vaccine policies have been a divisive subject nationwide, including in California, state politicians and leaders are hopeful public health initiatives will prevail.
“If we allow disinformation to drive our state policy making we will not only see more Americans needlessly suffer and die, but we will sacrifice the long term stability of our society having effectively abandoned the idea that we all must work together to protect each other in times of crisis.” Catherine Flores Martin, the Executive Director of the California Immunization Coalition, added.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (NBC News) (Sacramento Bee)
Inmates Sue Jail for Giving Them Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19 Without Consent
Four detainees who filed the suit allege that the jail’s doctor gave them “incredibly high doses” of the anti-parasite in a “cocktail of drugs” that he said were “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
Washington County Detention Center Lawsuit
Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were unknowingly given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent by the detention center’s doctor after contracting COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless other medical experts have said that ivermectin — commonly used for livestock — can be dangerous and should not be used to treat the coronavirus.
According to the lawsuit, after testing positive for COVID in August, the four men at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) were given a “cocktail of drugs” twice a day by the facility’s doctor, Robert Karas.
The inmates claim that Dr. Karas did not tell them that he was giving them ivermectin, but instead said the drugs consisted of “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
The complaint also alleges that the detainees were given “incredibly high doses” of the drug, causing some to experience “vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps.”
Use on Other Inmates
The four plaintiffs were far from the only people to whom Karas gave ivermectin.
According to the lawsuit, the doctor began using the drug to treat COVID starting in November of 2020. In August, the Washington County sheriff confirmed at a local finance and budget committee meeting that the doctor had been prescribing the drug to inmates, prompting the Arkansas Medical Board to launch an investigation.
In response, Karas informed a Medical Board investigator in a letter from his attorney that 254 inmates at the facility had been treated with ivermectin.
In the letter, he confirmed that whether or not detainees were given information about ivermectin was dependent on who administered it, but paramedics were not required to discuss the drug with them.
He also admitted that after the practice got media coverage, he “adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren’t.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the suit on behalf of the inmates, also claimed in a statement that after questions were raised about the practice, the jail attempted to make detainees sign forms saying that they retroactively agreed to the treatments.
The WCDC has not issued a public response to the lawsuits, but Dr. Karas appeared to address the situation in a Facebook post where he defended his actions.
“Guess we made the news again this week; still with best record in the world at the jail with the same protocols,” he wrote. “Inmates aren’t dumb and I suspect in the future other inmates around the country will be suiing their facilities requesting same treatment we’re using at WCDC-including the Ivermectin.”