Trail Blazers Star Lillard: Federal Response to Portland Protests 'Disturbing'


NBA superstar Damian Lillard has expressed serious concern over the increasingly combative response of federal authorities to weeks-long protests in Portland, Oregon.

Federal law enforcement officers from various agencies have recently descended on the city amid protests, sometimes clashing violently with protesters.

Several incidents of officers in unmarked vehicles detaining protesters off the streets have been reported, raising concerns about the potential violation of civil rights.

Lillard, whose Portland Trail Blazers team is gearing up for the NBA restart at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, said he had a "personal experience" with a protest, and has been reading up about it since.

"I had a personal experience with a protest on a particular day and it was all peaceful," Lillard said Wednesday, according to ESPN.

"And every one I've seen video of has been peaceful, so I don't understand why federal troops need to be on the ground and physically removing people from the streets. It's unnecessary and definitely a scary situation, so it's something I've started looking into more of the last few days to learn more about."

Countless elected officials have expressed concern about federal forces being used to control and disperse protesters, with some initiating court proceedings to block further deployments.

Lillard said he was shocked when he saw a video clip apparently showing federal officers arrest a protester.

"When I saw the clip, I saw federal troops on the ground, people being picked up in unmarked vans and taken to undisclosed locations and things like that just because they felt like they needed to get people off the streets.

"It definitely hurt to see people peacefully protesting something, and they're not in the wrong for protesting. And to be manhandled and physically taken off the streets and treated the way I saw in these video clips, it was disturbing."

President Trump has defended the extreme measures, saying it was necessary to restore order and protect monuments being toppled around the US, and he later vowed to send additional forces into other towns seeing unrest, including Chicago.