Feds Obstruct Public Easement in Downtown Portland Illegally Again

Blast Zone No. 34464 - 0 Comments
Set Up On:
Category: Police - Federal
Current Courthouse Address:
1000 SW Third Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97204

The federal government is once again illegally obstructing a public easement in downtown Portland, Oregon by erecting a fence identical to the one erected last summer and recently removed. The city of Portland billed the United States over $3,000,000 last year for blocking a public easement with a fence they erected on city property without a permit, but the feds will never have to pay the city any of that money due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity (https://copblaster.com/blast/26011/feds-remove-courthouse-fence-after-refusing-to-pay-portland-fines). That doctrine allows federal law enforcement to do as they wish and avoid accountability under state and local laws with limited exceptions.

The United States waived sovereign immunity when Congress passed the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) which allows the United States to be sued for property damage caused by federal employees in the course of their official duties, but the FTCA also includes an exception for law enforcement that only permits them to be sued under certain circumstances. We recently went into great detail about those circumstances in response to accusations that federal officers were breaking windows at downtown Portland businesses with stinger grenades and a claim that those business owners could sue the federal government for it (https://copblaster.com/blast/34459/are-federal-officers-breaking-windows-in-downtown-portland). We will rely on the arguments put forth in that article to support our conclusions here since they are basically the same. The federal government has only waived sovereign immunity for conduct constituting "assault, battery, false imprisonment, false arrest, malicious prosecution, abuse of process, libel, slander, misrepresentation, deceit, or interference with contract rights" when the perpetrators are federal law enforcement officers acting in accordance with their official duties. Because that fence was put up pursuant to a contract with federal law enforcement and erecting that fence does not meet the applicable criteria, no court is capable of forcing the federal government to pay fines levied against them by the city of Portland. Even if the perpetrators were non-law enforcement federal employees, the FTCA refers only to "injury or loss of property, or personal injury or death caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of any employee of the Government while acting within the scope of his office or employment, under circumstances where the United States, if a private person, would be liable to the claimant in accordance with the law of the place where the act or omission occurred." Obviously blocking an easement does not amount to property loss or damage. Under the FTCA the city cannot sue the feds to collect fees for construction that violates local ordinances. Because of sovereign immunity efforts by the city to force the feds to remove the fence (https://copblaster.com/blast/25870/city-of-portland-removal-notice-on-federal-courthouse-fence) were symbolic at best.

Also symbolic is seeing a new fence erected after volunteers took it upon themselves to improve the exterior of the building following the removal of the first fence (https://postalmostanything.com/2994/volunteers-improve-federal-courthouse-in-portland-oregon). The feds responded by attacking the volunteers with pepper balls, tear gas, and rubber bullets as they worked (https://copblaster.com/blast/34458/feds-attack-protesters-outside-federal-courthouse-in-portland-oregon). Fortunately there remain several other federally occupied facilities where people can still volunteer without having to climb a fence. The presence of a new fence shows that the people of Portland are still doing all they can to make their community better despite the continued presence of hostile and destructive federal forces occupying parts of the city.

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