U.S. Rep. John Lewis’ death reminds us all of the horrors and inspiration of the civil rights movement — its brutality, its shame, but above all its nobility.

At that time, the federal government intervened to uphold the First Amendment by protecting citizens from the violence inflicted on them by local law enforcement and by individuals. Who can forget Selma, the Montgomery shootings and other shameful acts? And who can forget the courage of the Freedom Riders? The hope represented by teenagers striding through the doors of Little Rock’s Central High School, their safety guaranteed by the U.S. Army?

Today, the federal government has sent its agents to Portland in an attempt to quell protests. They do not seem to differentiate between peaceful protesters and rioters. Their presence in Portland serves no purpose other than to exacerbate a tenuous situation and undermine the authority of local law-enforcement officials and city officials who are committed to upholding First Amendment rights.

It is ironic that federal forces, the champions of Constitutional rights during the civil rights movement, are now being used to desecrate those same rights.

Roberta Scholz, Edmonds