Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) told reporters Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s administration had agreed to start withdrawing federal law enforcement officers from Portland under an agreement between federal agencies and the state, but the federal agencies did not necessarily agree with Brown’s assessment.
The federal officers from ICE, DHS and CHP have been operating in Portland for at least two weeks and have clashed with rioting protesters around the federal courthouse there and in other areas in order to protect federal property.
Brown said the officers would begin withdrawing on Thursday under the new agreement, but DHS was not as definitive about the plans.
“These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community,” Brown said.
More local police presence
“Our local Oregon State Police officers will be downtown to protect Oregonians’ right to free speech and keep the peace,” she continued. “Let’s center the Black Lives Matter movement’s demands for racial justice and police accountability. It’s time for bold action to reform police practices.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf did say that an agreement had been reached for state and local police to have a bigger role in policing the area and quelling violence, but stopped short of committing to removal of federal troops on any given timeline.
“The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure,” Wolf said, adding that if state and local law enforcement stepped up, federal officers could leave.
The ACLU is accusing the federal officers of attacking journalists and legal observers with less-lethal munitions even though a court ordered them not to do so.
Riots causing massive damage
The riots have resulted in numerous injuries to police and protesters, including one death and three police officers that were permanently blinded by protesters shining commercial-grade lasers at them.
Graffiti now covers the courthouse, and protesters have also thrown fireworks at and into the courthouse in an attempt to damage it.
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that local Portland police and officials had to get rid of “anarchists and agitators” before federal officers would be removed, the Daily Mail reported.
“We’re not leaving until they secure their city. If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice. We’re gonna have to go in and clean it out,” Trump said ahead of a scheduled flight to Texas.