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Trump Hails Restoration of Law and Order as Feds Pull Back in Portland

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Federal agents who have been guarding the U.S. courthouse during violent riots in downtown Portland, Oregon, will begin withdrawing in the next 24 hours, Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday, though Trump administration officials said some would remain in the building and the entire contingent would stay in the city on standby.

Protests have been staged nightly in Portland for more than two months.

Some agitators have thrown fireworks, flares and rocks at federal agents, used lasers to blind them and spread graffiti over the face of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse.

President Donald Trump earlier this month sent agents to the city from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Marshals Service as protests increasingly targeted federal property, including the stately U.S. courthouse in downtown Portland.

Brown said agents with CBP and ICE will begin leaving the city’s downtown area on Thursday, but Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf wouldn’t specify where the agents would go.

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He insisted that a federal presence would remain in Portland until the Trump administration was assured the agreement was working and the Oregon State Police was sufficiently protecting federal property.

The plan calls for the U.S. Marshals Service and Federal Protective Service agents to remain inside a fence set up around the federal courthouse, along with some state police, to keep protesters out.

State police will also be posted outside the fence to keep protesters back.

“I want to be clear about this, the entire DHS law enforcement presence in Portland will remain in Portland, whether they’re staying inside the courthouse, next door or a different location, obviously I’m not going to get into that,” Wolf said on a call with reporters.

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“If … we have indicators and warnings that [the state police] deployment is not working, that entire DHS law enforcement presence is available.”

Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said his agency would deploy a special operations team and some uniformed troopers to the courthouse on a two-week rotation.

“OSP hopes to develop an atmosphere that affords the removal of the protective fence and restore a semblance of normalcy, while meeting community expectations and our obligations to protect the federal property,” Hampton said, adding that the troopers were Oregonians.

The agreement also calls for the U.S. government to clean the graffiti off the courthouse, which is federal property.

Trump tweeted shortly after the announcement that federal agents prevented Portland from being “burned and beaten to the ground.”

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Mayor Ted Wheeler also took to Twitter.

“The federal occupation of our community has brought a new kind of fear to our streets. Federal agents nearly killed a demonstrator, and their presence has led to increased violence and vandalism in our downtown core,” he wrote.

The tweet referred to a protester who was critically injured July 11 and required facial reconstructive surgery after he was struck by a non-lethal round fired by a federal agent.

Wednesday’s announcement was an abrupt about-face from two days earlier, when the federal government said it might send more federal agents to Portland instead.

Brown cautioned Wednesday that the departure of federal agents won’t immediately resolve the conflict at the courthouse.

“I have grown increasingly concerned at the nightly confrontation between local community members and federal officers. We need to recognize that the protests in Portland are not solely about the federal presence,” Brown said.

Many protesters want to see the Portland Police Bureau defunded and are angry that officers used tear gas on rioters before federal agents arrived.

Protesters have tried almost every night to tear down a fence erected to protect the courthouse. Authorities this week reinforced the fence by putting concrete highway barriers around it.


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