THE NEUTRAL ZONE
After weeks of violent clashes, federal officials have announced they will leave Portland in cooperation with Oregon State Police.
The Trump Administration initially sent in officials from the U.S. Marshals Service, Customs, Border Patrol, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect a federal courthouse, which raised questions of legality and resulted in violent skirmishes almost nightly. The courthouse is expected to remain a target during protests, so Oregon state police have said they will work with federal officials to ensure the safety of the building and those who work there. Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf said federal officials will remain until the courthouse is proven safe.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in an interview with NPR that Oregon police are focused on protecting protesters’ freedom to peacefully assemble and protest. “Our state police officers are local community members. They are Oregonians, and they very importantly are accountable, and they will be held to Oregon law. I’ve directed OSP to use each and every strategy to de-escalate and avoid confrontation with protesters.” She further added, “It is very, very clear that the presence of federal officers here added, simply, gasoline to an already challenging situation. It added gasoline to the fire. There is absolutely no question that the violence needs to end. I know that there are outliers in Oregon, in the Portland area, burning garbage cans, throwing rocks. That needs to end.”
The U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington defended the federal presence in Oregon, claiming the marshals are Oregon locals and have a duty to protect federal law under the Constitution. “Because this peaceful protest, in many respects, has been hijacked by violent extremists who have no intent to arrive at any solution other than to continue to create chaos.”
Portland business owner describes ‘devastating situation,’ says ‘there are no consequences’ for crimes – Fox News – 7/29/2020
Gibson [, a business owner,] added that she was hopeful an agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to have Oregon State Police take a bigger role in handling demonstrations would “calm things down in the future.” “That certainly gives us some hope,” she said. “Maybe that will calm things down, but people are committing crimes and there are no consequences for it, so I certainly hope Governor Brown and the State Police and everybody can handle it.”
Protesters weigh in on noticeable shift to end violence in downtown Portland – Fox12 Oregon – 7/29/2020
The two agree that without the presence of federal officers, the ongoing violence in downtown Portland could dramatically shift. “That would give a lot of the agitators who are really upset about federal agents being there, that would take away their reason for protests,” Leshan Terry said. “We need to disassociate the unrest that is over the federal agents being here from the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, ’cause we say their names out there every night.”
Feds to lower profile in Portland, expand presence in Midwest – Politico – 7/29/2020
The Homeland Security official said he was pleased that Oregon officials had agreed to maintain the first line of defense for the courthouse, but he also suggested that a lackadaisical response from Brown and Portland city officials essentially forced the feds to make their controversial move to call in reinforcements. “If she would’ve done it earlier, we would’ve been able to address the situation very differently,” Wolf said. “If violent individuals decide to commit a conscious decision to break federal law, we’re going to hold those people accountable.
Federal agents show stronger force at Portland protests despite order to withdraw – The Guardian – 7/30/2020
The DHS agents not only failed to do that [restore order across the city] but their presence provoked much larger demonstrations, particularly over some of the violent tactics they used and the fear that Trump was using the federal agents to create conflict for political ends. They also prompted a backlash in other parts of the country after agents in camouflage were filmed snatching protesters from the streets in unmarked vans.