BLM protester sues federal agents for 'illegal abduction' during George Floyd protests
The killing of George Floyd by a white policeman a year ago has prompted a reckoning on racial injustice in the United States

On Monday, Rolling Stone reported that a Black Lives Matter protester from Portland, Oregon is filing suit alleging that federal agents improperly seized her off the street during the 2020 George Floyd protests.

"In mid-July 2020, Evelyn Bassi got swept up in one of the darkest episodes of the Trump administration when she was grabbed by armed federal agents, detained in a van against her will, and frisked before ultimately being let go," reported Tim Dickinson. "Her new lawsuit claims that her 'illegal abduction' was feature of a 'terror campaign against Portlanders' orchestrated by then-President Trump, intended to 'intimidate the public and chill free speech.' She is seeking compensatory and punitive damages."

"As described in the court filing, Bassi’s ordeal began not long after midnight, in the early morning of July 15, 2020. She’d finished protesting and was starting to head home from downtown when an unmarked, dark gray Dodge minivan with tinted windows pulled up beside her and a companion," said the report. "The vehicle occupants opened the passenger-side doors and Bassi could see they were dressed 'in camouflage fatigues' and carried sidearms. The men didn’t identify themselves and Bassi didn’t know if they were law enforcement or local vigilantes, but she threw up her hands and told the men she was leaving."

Ultimately, the federal agents driving the van held Bassi captive for 10 minutes, then pulled over, took her out, frisked and interrogated her, and officers claimed she matched the description of a suspect who committed a federal crime against an officer involving a laser pointer. However, as the report notes, "the person the officers were ostensibly looking for was a man with blond hair. Bassi is a trans woman with brown hair."

"The ostensible purpose of deploying armed DHS agents to Oregon’s largest city was to protect a downtown federal courthouse," said the report. "But the effect of the arrival of feds from agencies like the Border Patrol and ICE was to inflame the protests, and turn the barricades around the courthouse into a flash-point where rowdy activists were countered by federal fusillades of tear gas and less-lethal weapons. (Chaotic images of this violence later featured prominently in Trump’s reelection campaign ads.)"

The protests in Portland were a response to the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin, a then-police officer in Minneapolis who kneeled on his neck for nine minutes. Chauvin was ultimately sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.