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Left-wing activists planning protest on the Las Vegas Strip

Updated July 25, 2020 - 12:53 pm

Left-wing activists are planning to protest on the Las Vegas Strip Saturday in support of the ongoing clashes between demonstrators and military-styled federal agents in Portland, Oregon.

A call has gone out on the anarchist website itsgoingdown.org for protests to take place in more than 30 additional cities across the country, including New York, Seattle, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Minneapolis and Dallas.

Federal and local law enforcement authorities have been preparing for the Las Vegas protest. It is not known whether outside groups are coming here and how many people will show up, but at least two local groups are planning to participate.

U.S. Marshal Gary Schofield, who is responsible for protecting the federal judiciary in Nevada, said late Friday that he is concerned about possible violence and is reaching out to community leaders for help in ensuring a peaceful demonstration.

“We don’t want what is occurring in Portland to occur in Nevada,” Schofield said. “We fully support the rights of our citizens granted in the U.S. Constitution during these turbulent times in our country. “What cannot be allowed is the disruption of the court by acts of violence against the court or destruction of the court facilities.”

The demonstration is supposed to start at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bellagio, according to posts on social media titled Relentless Pressure.

Nakitaa Fletcher, one of the organizers, told the Review-Journal she planned the protest weeks ago and had no idea how it wound up shared on the anarchist website. “Our protest was to continue to bring awareness to the corruption within law enforcement and continue to apply pressure on those in power here in Vegas.”

In a Facebook post, she said that the protest is not intended to “engage in any type of violence or destroying our city.

“We know that as a community we are having this protest to share the movement against police brutality and we know that we must continue to apply pressure until the police system has been reformed and defunded,” Fletcher wrote.

Ashley Lesieur, an organizer for a second action, “Las Vegas Stands Against Operation Legend,” could not be reached for comment, but said in a Twitter post her protest group will join the first group. Lesieur, who describes herself on social media as an “anarcha-feminist,” also stated on actionnetwork.org that this is a peaceful protest.

On Twitter Saturday morning, she said: “BLM (Black Lives Matter) has shown us what sustained protest looks like. Portland has shown us how to resist when a fascist paramilitary shows up in our streets.

“Today we stand across this country, in solidarity with #BLM and Portland. We do not accept white supremacy or fascism in our country!”

Nationwide solidarity call

Groups in Portland issued the nationwide solidarity call to back their battle with federal agents ordered into the city by President Donald Trump to protect the federal courthouse and statues amid the racial and civil unrest.

“We love that people are thinking about the ways they can support the people in this city, especially those who have been pressing hard in the streets for the past seven weeks in support of the struggle for Black lives and for freedom for all — and despite the brutally repressive tactics of police and federal forces,” the groups said in a statement on their website.

“Go as hard as you want, use every tool in the toolbox, and employ every tactic you can. … Our common struggle against fascism and against the police and federal officials defending white supremacy are intertwined. The movement is moving: solidarity is spreading and the bigger we get the faster we win.”

The Portland protests began May 29 after George Floyd died while being detained by Minneapolis police and have intensified recently with the arrival of the armed federal agents. The agents are part of a special U.S. Department of Homeland Security unit made up of people mainly from Customs and Border Protection.

The forces wear camouflage uniforms and carry military weapons. The U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Protective Service also have been involved in protecting the courthouse in Portland.

Anarchists in Portland have firebombed the federal courthouse, defaced it with graffiti, broken windows and cameras and thrown fireworks at the building, the Department of Homeland Security has reported.

The White House said Friday that protesters also aimed lasers at the faces of federal agents and might have permanently blinded them, according to news reports.

Portland’s mayor and Oregon’s governor have accused the agents of heightening the civil unrest and demanded they leave.

The state filed a lawsuit to force the departure of the agents, alleging some protesters have been hauled away into unmarked vans in the night without probable cause. The lawsuit was rejected Friday by a federal judge.

The Trump administration has stood its ground and is pushing to send federal agents to other major cities dealing with stepped up-violence, including Chicago, Detroit, Seattle, Philadelphia and Oakland, California. There are no extra federal forces in Las Vegas.

The two federal courthouses in downtown Las Vegas were damaged during Black Lives Matter demonstrations nearly two months ago. One police officer also was seriously wounded, and a protester was killed by police. But in recent weeks repairs to the courthouses have been made and the protests have waned with little violence.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.

Reporter Sabrina Schnur contributed to this story.

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