'This is how freedom dies': Damning Lincoln Project ad warns Trump is threatening to destroy democracy with unmarked federal police

'This is how it starts, and how freedom dies — unless we stand up, unless we speak out, unless we demand justice'

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 21 July 2020 18:18 BST
New Lincoln Project ad warns Portland crackdown threatens democracy

A new advertisement created by a group of Republicans has warned that Donald Trump's deployment of federal law enforcement to cities facing major protests could mark the beginning of the end for freedom in America.

The latest damning ad released by the Lincoln Project featured clips of law enforcement officers the Trump administration sent to Portland, Oregon in recent days, detaining protesters in unmarked vans while donning military gear.

“This is how it starts,” a narrator can be heard saying in the beginning of the ad over dramatic music. “A president out of control, as polls forecast his downfall. This is how it starts: in a small city far from the beltway, shadowy men, no badges, no ID.”

The ad cuts to shots of the unidentified law enforcement officers arresting multiple protesters, detaining demonstrators “without a warning or a warrant” and firing tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets onto the crowds.

Mr Trump has threatened to send the federal officers to Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, New York City, Baltimore and Oakland after he celebrated the scenes out of Portland this week.

“We’re sending law enforcement,” he said to reporters at the White House. “We can't let this happen to the cities."

The federal law enforcement officers were comprised by units with the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and the US Marshals Service.

Mr Trump ordered their deployment to Portland under an executive order he signed last month as part of an apparent effort to protect statues on federal grounds from being toppled by activists.

Multiple reports have indicated the administration was planning to send 150 officers to Chicago amid a spike in violence throughout the city. Local officials have said they do not need the assistance, with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot saying in a statement: “We don't need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully.”

The Lincoln Project was created by prominent current and former Republicans like George Conway, a Washington lawyer and husband to the president’s White House Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway, as well as Steve Schmidt and John Weaver, among others. The political action committee’s self-described motive in the 2020 elections is “defeating Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box.”

After the controversial scenes from Portland play for over a minute, the new ad states: “This is how it starts, and how freedom dies — unless we stand up, unless we speak out, unless we demand justice.”

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