Lawsuit seeks to bar federal officers from conducting law enforcement activities unless actively enforcing federal law

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A 16-page lawsuit filed in federal district court on Tuesday asks for an injunction barring federal officers from conducing law enforcement activities unless they are actively enforcing federal law.

The Portland-based Western States Center, one of the three plaintiffs in the suit, claims federal agents have overstepped their constitutional bounds.

"Their presence appears to carry no transparency or accountability with local and state government," said Eric Ward, Executive Director of the Western States Center. "It is disruptive. We believe it violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution."

The lawsuit claims federal officers' actions violate the portion of the 10th Amendment that states power not granted specifically to the federal government is reserved to the states and the people.

Tuesday afternoon, Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf defended the actions of federal officers.

"The law is clear on what our authority entails," said Wolf. "We are expressly allowed to leave federal property to conduct investigations and arrest individuals who have damaged federal property."

Documents filed in court after recent arrests describe federal agents taking photos of protesters from an "overlook position" on the seventh floor of the federal courthouse, then relaying those photos and descriptions of potential suspects to "plainclothes agents" working in the crowd.

Wolf took exception to federal officers being described as "militarized."

"They are not military. They are civilian police officers. These police officers are not “storm troopers.” They are not the “gestapo,” as some have described them. That description is offensive. It’s hyperbolic, and it’s dishonest," said Wolf.

But Ward said federal agents are overstepping their authority, and creating and escalating dangerous situations.

"You have now a militarized federal force with no clear mandate that is functioning outside of its bounds," said Ward.

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