Retreat is not an option, the U.S. attorney for Oregon said when talking about the duel between federal agents on the streets of Portland and local officials urging the federal government to give in to rioters who visit nightly destruction upon the city.
“It is not a solution to tell federal officers to leave when there continues to be attacks on federal property and personnel. We are not leaving the building unprotected to be destroyed by people intent on doing so,” U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said Monday, according to The Associated Press.
“The solution comes from the community. This has to be a community-based coalition to join in and ask to end the violence,” Williams said, according to KATU-TV.
“I am calling on peaceful protesters, community leaders, people of faith, business leaders and all people of Portland, stand up for Portland, do the right thing, help end the violence so we can work on reforms for a more just society,” he said.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, state officials and various Democratic legislators have all demanded that the federal government withdraw its agents from the city.
The clash between levels of government came as violent demonstrations have now topped 60 consecutive nights.
On Monday night, fires were started near the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, which has been ground zero for the battles between federal agents and rioters, according to KATU-TV.
Rioters were mostly contained outside a fence, but they threw objects at agents behind the fence. Shortly after midnight, a Molotov cocktail was thrown through against the front door of the courthouse.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 28, 2020
Portland police report on last night’s peaceful protest. ‘A person threw a Molotov cocktail, or similar destructive device, against the front door of the courthouse which burst into a fireball…causing a report to be heard and felt more than a block away. https://t.co/4etRA2jFuJ pic.twitter.com/d5iewVEu70
— Byron York (@ByronYork) July 28, 2020
Kris Cline, principal deputy director of the Federal Protective Service, told the AP that he would prefer that Portland police disperse rioters instead of federal agents having to do the job.
“If the Portland Police Bureau were able to do what they typically do, they would be able to clear this out for this disturbance and we would leave our officers inside the building and not be visible,” Cline said.
President Donald Trump on Monday affirmed his intention to protect federal facilities, regardless of any controversy.
….would destroy our American cities, and worse, if Sleepy Joe Biden, the puppet of the Left, ever won. Markets would crash and cities would burn. Our Country would suffer like never before. We will beat the Virus, soon, and go on to the Golden Age – better than ever before!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2020
On Saturday, Williams said it was “nonsensical, political theater” for city leaders to limit the ability of the police to collaborate with federal authorities, and local citizens and leaders should take the lead in ending the nightly unrest he laid at the feet of “violent extremists,” according to Oregon Live.
“Until that happens, we’re going to do what we need to do to protect federal property,” he said. “When the violence ends, then there won’t be a need for the presence of nightly federal officers. … It seems quite simple.”
“Anyone who thinks we’re just going to give up the courthouse, Hatfield, Pioneer [Courthouse] or any other federal facility downtown, that’s not going to happen. … We’re not leaving,” Williams said.
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