Federal officers leaving Portland by Thursday, governor says

National News

Demonstrators shield themselves from federal officers during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on Saturday, July 25, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Federal officers will be leaving Portland by Thursday at the latest, Gov. Kate Brown tweeted early Wednesday morning.

“After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland,” she said.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the news, saying in a statement that federal officers will be replaced with Oregon State Police.

“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,” he said. “This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began.”

The news comes after reports that Mayor Ted Wheeler was also in discussions with the White House to have troops removed.

“There are conversations ongoing. Frankly, they’ve been fruitful. I can’t tell you the details, but I can tell you this, I expect there will be an announcement shortly,” Wheeler said Tuesday. “Portlanders don’t want to continue to stand there at that fence and fight federal officers each and every night.”

He said he agrees with protesters’ complaints calling the officers’ actions “unconstitutional.”

Other reports on Tuesday said more officers were being deployed.

In direct contradiction to Brown’s and Wolf’s announcement, President Donald Trump said Wednesday morning that troops were not withdrawing until Portland authorities “secured” the city.

“We’re hearing all sorts of reports about us leaving. We’re not leaving until they secure their city.  We told the governor, we told the mayor: secure your city. If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice, we will have to go in there and clean it out,” he said outside the White House before departing for a trip to Texas.

The federal presence in the Rose City has further inflamed protests, with crowds only growing larger as they continue into the second month of demonstrations.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets for a 61st straight night of protests against police, systemic racism and other causes Tuesday evening amid reports that federal officers could soon leave the city if local authorities step up enforcement.

By late Tuesday night, at least 1,000 people had gathered near the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and Justice Center. Federal officers issued at least 10 verbal warnings to protesters to stop tampering with the fence and to stop lighting fireworks.

One man protesting inside the fenced area held a single flower and was still there after federal officers emerged from the courthouse for the first time that evening with pepper balls.

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