Article by PBI-Canada
Instagram photo by portland_resistance.
There is an unverified social media report that an armoured Stryker vehicle has been seen in Portland, Oregon.
Portland has been experiencing ongoing protests against police violence since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th.
The response to those protests has recently escalated. On July 18, MSNBC reported: “Disturbing images out of Portland show unidentified federal agents in camouflage shooting projectiles at peaceful protesters, and grabbing them off the street and into unmarked rental vehicles without telling them why or where they’re being taken.”
A Stryker in Portland?
It is within this context that a Stryker was reportedly seen in Portland.
On July 16, portland_resistance posted on Instagram the photo above and noted: “Spotted in PORTLAND, OR. Across from the bureau of transportation.”
That post then quotes Wikipedia: “The ICV (Infantry Carrier Vehicle) Stryker is a family of eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicles derived from the Canadian LAV III.”
There is also this series of posts on Twitter that say it’s a Stryker.
The Nation has also reported on Stryker vehicles monitoring the U.S.-Mexico border, suggesting they are used by Customs and Border Protection. This may be significant given there are media reports that say CBP agents are now in Portland.
That article in The Nation notes: “I was on a lonely two-lane road in southern New Mexico heading for El Paso, Texas. …When I stopped to take a picture, a soldier wearing a camouflage helmet emerged from the top of the Stryker, a 19-ton, eight-wheeled combat vehicle that was regularly used in military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. …With high-tech binoculars, he began to monitor the mountainous desert that stretched toward Mexico, 20 miles away, as if the enemy might appear at any moment.”
And the London Free Press has previously reported: “The Stryker entered service with the U.S. army in 2002. …General Dynamics in London was first awarded the contract in 2000 for 2,131 vehicles. More than 4,800 have been manufactured. Although work is done on the vehicles at other General Dynamics plants in the U.S, when it is converted for other uses, every hull is cast in London and many return here for final assembly.”
Calls for federal agents to leave Portland
USA Today notes: “Gov. Kate Brown demanded that all federal law enforcement officers be removed from Portland streets and accused [Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad] Wolf of putting Oregon’s citizens and law enforcement officers in danger.”
The Washington Post further reports: “Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit that accused several agencies of unlawful law enforcement, including the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Federal Protection Service.”
That article adds: “The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Oregon has also filed suit against DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service. The lawsuit seeks to block federal law enforcement from dispersing, arresting, threatening to arrest, or using physical force against journalists or legal observers, the organization said.”
And Doug Brown of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has commented: “Federal agents, including those from Trump’s Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, are terrorizing the community, threatening lives, and relentlessly attacking protesters demonstrating against police brutality.”
It is unclear what this vehicle is reportedly doing in Portland. There are posts like this one that suggest it may be on its way to Fort Lewis (McChord AFB, Joint Base Lewis-McChord) about 135 miles north of Portland.
While the deployment of a Canadian-made Stryker vehicle in Portland has not been confirmed, the high level of concern about the infringement of fundamental civil rights by federal officers raises the need for a clear answer to address this unknown.
Other military goods?
Beyond the Stryker, there is also the question of what other Canadian-manufactured “military goods” might be being used against these protests.
The Government of Canada’s 2019 Exports of Military Goods report (Table 12) notes that Canada exported $33,975,965.89 to the U.S. of a category of “goods” that includes grenades, smoke canisters, “pyrotechnic” devices and simulators. AFP has reported that federal agents have used flash grenades against protesters.
Last month, the Independent reported: “The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the United States, in light of the police response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.”
That article also noted: “Back at the UK parliament in Westminster 166 MPs from the Labour party, the Conservatives, SNP, Liberal Democrats, Greens, Plaid Cymru, Sinn Fein, Alliance, and SDLP signed a letter last week calling for a similar suspension.”
Labour MP Emily Thornberry has stated: “The British public deserve to know how arms exported by this country are being used across the world and the American public deserve the right to protest peacefully without the threat of violent repression.”
There is an additional urgency to answering these question now that CBS reports: “President Trump on Monday said he is considering sending federal officers to cities other than Portland after they did a ‘great job’ there.”