In recent days, federal law enforcement has been deployed by President Donald Trump to police the protests in Portland, Oregon, with images and videos posted online of unmarked officers in military-style uniforms arresting protesters, something Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard called "disturbing."
"I had a personal experience with a protest on a particular day and it was all peaceful," Lillard said Wednesday. "And every one I've seen video of has been peaceful, so I don't understand why federal troops need to be on the ground and physically removing people from the streets. It's unnecessary and definitely a scary situation, so it's something I've started looking into more of the last few days to learn more about."
Protests in Portland have been going on since late May, with citizens amassing in large numbers daily to rally against police violence and systemic racism.
Being across the country in Orlando, Florida, preparing for the NBA restart, Lillard said he was unaware of the situation in Portland until he jumped on Twitter and saw a bunch of mentions asking him about it.
"I wasn't [aware], until I saw a clip," he said, "and when I saw the clip, I saw federal troops on the ground, people being picked up in unmarked vans and taken to undisclosed locations and things like that just because they felt like they needed to get people off the streets."
Both the governor of Oregon, Kate Brown, and mayor of Portland, Ted Wheeler, have asked for agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the Customs and Border Patrol, the Federal Protective Service and the U.S. Marshals Service to leave the city, accusing them of arresting protesters without probable cause and pointing at the presence of the federal agents as an escalation of the situation. The federal government, though, has said it is trying to restore order in Portland.
"It's definitely hurt to see people peacefully protesting something and they're not in the wrong for protesting," Lillard said. "And to be manhandled and physically taken off the streets and treated the way I saw in these video clips, it was disturbing."