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Portland City Council members demand talks with Department of Homeland Security to end federal occupation

PMG PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE - Federal officers patrol downtown Portland after pushing protesters back from the U.S. Courthouse on Monday, July 20. After initially refusing to meet with Department of Homeland Security officials earlier this month, city leaders are now demanding to do so.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's office announced Monday evening that Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty are requesting an immediate meeting with Homeland Security leadership on the ground in Portland, along with Acting Secretary Chad Wolf. Wheeler and Hardesty say they want a "cease-fire" with the removal of federal agents sent here on executive order by President Donald Trump.

Federal agents arrived in Portland over the weekend of July 4, to protect federal buildings and property, amid ongoing Black Lives Matter protests that led to Portland Police declaring riots and using chemical and non-lethal weapons on protesters.

As backlash over the use of force continued, prolonging the protests, Trump criticized the city's and state's leadership, saying he would send forces to crack down on reports of violence and unrest.

Upon their arrival, Wheeler said he would not be meeting with Wolf. Instead, the Homeland Security official met with Daryl Turner, president of the Portland Police Association.

Since the arrival of federal forces from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol and U.S. Marshal's Office, the nightly protests have grown in size, leading to large crowds near two federal buildings and a county courthouse near Southwest Third and Main Street. Multiple legal complaints have been filed against the Department of Homeland Security over officers' use of force. Protests have grown in response to heightened use of force on protesters, including tear gas, pepper spray, pepper balls and other munitions.

Wheeler has criticized the presence of federal officers, and has also taken heat over the city's response to nearly two months of downtown protests.


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