Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday morning that the federal government has agreed to withdraw some agents from Portland. The agents have been the focus of nightly protests in a two-block area downtown around the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler praised the governor's move in a Wednesday statement. "The Oregon State Police, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Portland Police Bureau will continue working together to keep Portlanders safe, and the governor and I have given clear direction: we expect that they will continue engaging only if there is violent criminal activity."
Chad F. Wolf, acting Department of Homeland Security secretary, said Wednesday that the agency planned to "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."
"We have an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. The departure of federal forces represents the beginning of a process that will be as difficult as it is overdue." — Gov. Kate Brown
Wolf said in a July 29 statement that he and Brown had talked during the past 24 hours about the plan to reduce violence and protests in downtown Portland. Using Oregon State Police to provide security for the federal courthouse was one step in that plan, he said.
"The department will continue to re-evaluate our security posture in Portland, and should circumstances on the ground significantly improve due to the influx of state and local law enforcement, we anticipate the ability to change our force posture," Wolf said in the statement.
In a couple of Wednesday morning tweets, President Trump said the federal agents had prevented Portland from being "burned and beaten to the ground." He also said that if the state and city didn't stop the nightly downtown violence, federal agents would "do the job that local law enforcement was supposed to do."
...do not stop the Crime and Violence from the Anarchists and Agitators immediately, the Federal Government will go in and do the job that local law enforcement was supposed to do!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2020
Brown released this July 29 statement about the decision:
After my repeated requests, the federal government has agreed to a phased withdrawal of federal officers that have been deployed to the Mark Hatfield United States Courthouse over recent weeks.
These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community. Beginning Thursday, all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers will leave downtown Portland, and shortly thereafter will begin going home.
After discussions with the vice president (Mike Pence) and administration officials this week, the federal government has agreed to my demand and will withdraw these officers from Portland. They will also clean up the courthouse, removing the graffiti.
The local Oregon officers of the Oregon State Police will provide protection for free speech and the security of the exterior of the courthouse with the Federal Protective Service. A limited contingent of federal officials, who act as building security year-round, will remain and will stay focused on the interior of the U.S. 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. They started before federal agents descended on our city and they will likely continue after they leave.
Across America and across Oregon, the Black Lives Matter movement has led a historic uprising, centering black voices demanding justice and greater police accountability. While I recently signed six police accountability bills, championed by the Legislature's People of Color Caucus, and convened a task force to review and reform Oregon training and certification procedures for all local police officers, there is so much more to be done. The community is demanding more sweeping action. I agree.
I will work with community leaders and elected officials to take bolder action to reform our police practices — including those of the Portland Police Bureau. We need to get this right.
We have an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. The departure of federal forces represents the beginning of a process that will be as difficult as it is overdue.
If slavery is America's original sin, then anti-Blackness is Oregon's. Even before it was recognized as a state, Oregon prevented African Americans from settling here and owning property. For far too long, Oregon's constitution ingrained discrimination into state law.
Black, white, brown, and indigenous Oregonians are ready to address systemic racism. Let's get to work.
Here is Mayor Ted Wheeler's statement on the decision:
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. The daily coverage of their actions has distracted our community from the Black voices at the center of this movement, and the urgent work of reform.
I appreciate Gov. Brown's leadership in this discussion and her willingness to step in with State resources. The governor and I agree: Oregon resources, expertise, and values are sufficient to manage Oregon issues.
The Oregon State Police, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Portland Police Bureau will continue working together to keep Portlanders safe, and the governor and I have given clear direction: we expect that they will continue engaging only if there is violent criminal activity.
For nearly two months, many thousands of Portlanders have committed to conversation and action centered on police and criminal justice system reform in our community. Local and State leaders have taken meaningful steps. And we are poised to do more.
Today, council will consider referring a ballot measure to fundamentally reimagine police accountability. The City Council has redirected millions of dollars from the Police Bureau's budget, and is pressing forward with updates to bureau policies and training.
We are beginning to work with incoming District Attorney Mike Schmidt to reform the legal arm of the criminal justice system. We are advocating to State and Federal legislators for changes in the law.
And I am developing a community reinvestment proposal that I hope my colleagues will support when we discuss the city budget this fall.
The work of reform deserves our community's full and complete attention, and I know that Portlanders will stay engaged. I'm proud of this community, and excited for the work ahead.
Here is the statement by DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf:
Over the past 24 hours, Gov. Brown and I have been in regular communication and have agreed to a joint plan to end the violent activity in Portland directed at federal properties and law enforcement officers. That plan includes a robust presence of Oregon State Police in downtown Portland. State and local law enforcement will begin securing properties and streets, especially those surrounding federal properties, that have been under nightly attack for the past two months. Oregon State Police will coordinate with Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers to ensure all federal facilities remain protected and secure.
This plan is possible due to the valiant efforts of the DHS law enforcement officers protecting federal property in Portland from violent activity for the past two months.
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. This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began.
The department will continue to re-evaluate our security posture in Portland, and should circumstances on the ground significantly improve due to the influx of state and local law enforcement, we anticipate the ability to change our force posture, as we do everyday at our other 9,000 federal properties we protect across the country.
President Trump and this Administration have been consistent in our message throughout the violence in Portland: the violent criminal activity directed towards federal properties and law enforcement will not be tolerated, state and local leaders must step forward and police their communities, and the Department of Homeland Security will not back down from our legal duty to protect federal law enforcement officers and federal properties in the face of such criminal behavior.
President Trump has also made clear that this Administration is ready and willing to partner with state and local law enforcement to protect every American — and you see that commitment in Portland with this plan. The department and this administration will also continue to fulfill its solemn obligation to uphold federal law across the country.
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