Playing With A Pretend Army


There are heavily armed men invading Portland.  Cleveland and other cities may be next.  What is the proper name for these irregulars?  What should we call them?

  • Trump’s Paramilitary Goon Squad
  • Camo-shirted Stormtroopers
  • The universally understood – Mercenaries

The first attack took place in Lafayette Park outside of the White House.  Pictures revealed that the uniformed shock troops, which did not have any visible names, are from a number of federal agencies.  Some of those agencies that make up the Protecting American Communities Task Force (PACT) utilize private contractors.  Part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal Protection Service which relies on private contractors.  Those are not policemen.  They are not National Guard.  They are not military.  They are not trained to interact with peaceful or even non-peaceful protestors.  At best some of them are qualified to quell a prison uprising.  The citizens of Portland, Chicago, or even Cleveland are not rioting maximum security prisoners.

Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, has asked for them to go.  Governor Kate Brown has asked for them to go.  But this invading force isn’t going anywhere.

There is a fear of the “Other” that is being stoked by certain people in this country to our collective harm. Is this your view of right and wrong?   Felipe Nystrom is an international cycling champion, court translator in the city of Portland, and a naturalized US citizen.  He was accosted last week outside of the county courthouse.  Below is his description of the encounter is his own words:

I had to sit on this for a couple of days because of how pissed off I was but here’s my rant. I am and always will be a Costarrican who happens to be a US citizen. I love my country and will always be a respectful guest in this one. However I will not stand for racism whether it is obvious or the person just doesn’t realize it.

Last Friday morning I went to the Multnomah County Court House for work. When I got there about 830 AM I saw a sign on the door that diaf it was court furlough day and that it was closed. So while standing on the sidewalk I called my agency to see what was going on since it was strange that I’d been given a grand jury appointment yo interpret for on a day the court was closed. While the phone was ringing I heard a firm, almost angry, voice from behind me say

“Put the phone down”

I ignored it since it couldn’t possibly have been directed at me since I wasn’t doing anything. Almost immediately a second voice in an even firmer voice said


At this point I turned around and saw to armed men standing very close to me. Then the first guy said again “Put. The. Phone. Down…Now”

So with confused look on my face I started to put my phone in my pocket and immediately one of them said

“Keep your hands where i can see them!” As he reached his hand closer to his gun.

I thought for a moment I was being pranked so I said

“Well guys make up your minds. You want my phone down or my hands up?”

To which one of them replied “Don’t get fucking cute with us”

Next that same guy asked for my name and I gave it to him. He asked where I lived and provided my address.

I at this point aksed who they were and what this was about. The reply was

“You don’t fucking ask questions. We ask the questions. You answer them. Got it?!”

While he was saying this the other guy was on his radio.

The next question was “Where are you from?”

I answered ” I live in Portland”

As this was happening, two more of these guys showed up so now there were 4 armed men surrounding me.

I have dealt with racist comments many times since I move to PDX and can very quickly notice when somebody is doing it. That question “where are you from” only happens in 2 forms. One of genuine interests to learn something about someone and the other way. To get me to say that i am from another country.

Next one of the recently arrived guys asked again “Where are you from?”

Again I said Portland.

“No no no! I asked where are you from?”


“Portland” I said again.

“This is my address..” and provided it again.

This all only took a matter of minutes but they kept getting closer and closer to me.

“Let’s see some ID”

I never carry my wallet with me. I think wallets are bulky and by not keeping cash or my card on me I save millions by not buying teas and cookies all day so i keep it in my car. Usually my work badge is good enough for anything I need to do at work. We were literally 5 ft from my car and I explained as much and that of we could just go to my car i could show them.

“It’s in my car. My car is right here”

To which they reply…

“So you’re saying you don’t have ID”

“It’s in my car, which is right there”

Another call on the radio and within seconds a pick up pulls up and 2 more of these guys get out. Now there are 6 armed men surrounding me. Every second that passes they keep creeping closer and closer.

“I am going to ask you one more time, where are you from?”

“I live in Portland. “

It is my belief that in that moment they were going to take me into custody as an illegal immigrant. But by sheer luck a deputy district attorney who i had interprered for earlier in the week for a dofferenr grand jury, happened to be coming into work and as he walked by

sar me and asked if I was ok.

One of these men immediately turned to him and said

“This is official business move along right now… keep walking.”

The DDA replied “hang on. I’m a DDA. What’s going on here?”

As soon as he said “DDA” I saw an immediate change in all six of their faces. They looked at eachother so as to ask with their eyes, what they were going to do. At this point one of them said let’s see your ID and two of them walked me to my car. I showed it to them. One of them took a picture of it with his phone. He gave it back and just like that they left.

If there could be any doubt that racism alive and well in this country currently fueled by the president this is yet another example of it.

I want to leave this picture here because for those of us that are not white there is a ver real possibility that when we leave home we may very well not come back and this way there’s a nice picture for the record.

For doing nothing more than going to work while being a US citizen but brown I was very close to being taken and the worst part is that I have no idea by who or where I would have been taken. That is the fear that I get to live with for no other reason than BREATHING WHILE BROWN IN THE USA. 

Are you next?  Are you white enough?  Could someone mistake you as being “Other”?  Don’t be so sure.  Is this martial law?  Where will you be safe once the invading force arrives?


Picture – Playing With A Pretend Army – David L Cunix

Quick Note – Mr. Nystrom was obviously shaken by the experience.  I see no reason to correct his grammar or spelling.  I wonder if any of us could do any better under the circumstances.