New bill would prohibit most federal agents from ever wearing camouflage again

  • The Clear Visual Distinction Between Military and Law Enforcement Act, introduced by US Sen. Tammy Duckworth, would prohibit most federal agents from wearing camouflage.
  • The legislation was introduced in response to federal agents wearing military-style fatigues on the streets of Portland, Oregon.
  • In a statement, Duckworth accused the Trump administration of having "blurred the lines between military service members and law enforcement officers."
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When federal agents began marching through the streets of Portland, Oregon, this summer, decked in camouflage, shooting tear gas canisters that hit journalists, and shoving protesters in unmarked vans, on lawmaker, Sen. Ron Wyden, of Oregon, remarked, in part, "I think we could be staring down the barrel of martial law."

Newly introduced legislation would prohibit US law enforcement from donning military-style fatigues ever again.

The bill, dubbed The Clear Visual Distinction Between Military and Law Enforcement Act, was introduced Wednesday by US Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran and Democrat from Illinois.

"The Trump administration's decision to deploy federal law enforcement officers outfitted in camouflage uniforms in response to those protesting the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans blurred the lines between military service members and law enforcement officers while causing even more fear and division," Duckworth said in a press release.

The bill, which provides an exception for law enforcement agents who need to blend in with their environments, comes after current and former military leaders and activists alike expressed concern over law enforcement officers dressing as an occupying force. Retired US Army General Russel Honoré, for example, complained that domestic police were being made to "look like warriors" as "an instrument of protest suppression."

In response to that criticism, Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli told a Senate panel in August that federal agents would stop wearing camouflage.

Duckworth's bill, which would codify that promise, is cosponsored by both of Oregon's Democratic senators.

"American cities aren't battlefields," Sen. Ron Wyden said in a statement, "and law enforcement must act and be equipped accordingly. Yet, Donald Trump is fanning the flames of division, fear, and violence with the militarization of federal officers. These authoritarian tactics must be stopped."

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