A demonstrator waves a U.S. flag in front of federal officers after tear gas is deployed during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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Portland protests relatively calm after federal agents' drawdown

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By GILLIAN FLACCUS and ANDREW SELSKY

Leaders in Portland, Oregon, caught their breath and moved forward with cautious optimism Friday after the first nightly protest in weeks ended without any major confrontations, violence or arrests.

The dramatic change in tone outside a federal courthouse that's become ground zero in clashes between demonstrators and federal agents came after the U.S. government began drawing down its forces in the liberal city under a deal between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and the Trump administration.

As agents from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement pulled back, troopers with the Oregon State Police took over. There were no visible signs of any law enforcement presence outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, where a protest lasted into early Friday.

“Last night, the world was watching Portland. Here’s what they saw: Federal troops left downtown. Local officials protected free speech. And Oregonians spoke out for Black Lives Matter, racial justice, and police accountability through peaceful, non-violent protest,” Brown said in a tweet Friday.

Mayor Ted Wheeler also struck an optimistic tone but cautioned that there was much work to be done after more than 60 days of protests — and not just in cleaning up downtown Portland.

Leaders in Oregon are pushing for a raft of measures that would address systemic racism in everything from policing to housing. Those proposals could be fast-tracked for consideration in a special legislative session later this summer.

The governor also announced the creation of a Racial Justice Council to advise her on criminal justice reform and police accountability, health equity, economic opportunity, housing and homelessness, and environmental justice.

“The council will examine and begin to dismantle the racist policies that have created grave disparities in virtually every part of our society,” Brown’s office said in a statement.

A majority of the group's members will be people of color and include state lawmakers to help get policies passed next year.

Portland's City Council also voted this week to refer a ballot measure to voters in November that would create a police review board independent from any elected official or city department.

“We need the time to heal. We need the time to allow people to come back downtown and experience the great downtown that people remember from just a few months ago," said Wheeler, a Democrat. “The mass demonstrations that we’ve seen over many, many weeks, those demands have been heard. The demands have been understood.”

The scene outside the federal courthouse stood in sharp contrast to the violent clashes between protesters and the agents that President Donald Trump sent to Oregon's largest city in early July. Protests have roiled Portland for more than two months following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

And while thousands have marched and rallied peacefully, Portland's federal courthouse became a target for some protesters. Smaller numbers of demonstrators tried to tear down a fence erected to protect it, lit fires at the courthouse entryway and hurled fireworks, flares and bricks at the agents holed up inside. Most nights, the agents responded by firing tear gas.

But at the protest that began Thursday night, there was little violence and few signs of confrontation as several thousand people gathered near the courthouse .

A handful of protesters pointed lights and lasers at the building, but state troopers remained inside and did not respond. Soon afterward, hundreds of demonstrators gathered about a block from the courthouse to listen to speeches, with little sign of a law enforcement presence. The mood remained calm into early Friday as the crowd dwindled to about 500 demonstrators.

In preparation for the handover from federal authorities to state troopers, the local sheriff and Portland police met and agreed not to use tear gas except in situations with a threat of serious injury or death, the mayor said.

Wheeler, who was gassed when he joined protesters outside the courthouse last week, added that tear gas “as a tactic really isn’t all that effective” because protesters have donned gas masks and often return to the action after recovering for a few minutes. He apologized to peaceful demonstrators exposed to tear gas used by Portland police before federal officials arrived.

Under the deal announced by the governor, the agents will withdraw in phases. But federal officials insisted that the agents will not leave the city completely and will be kept on standby.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said he believes the new collaboration between local law enforcement agencies will be seen “as a victory in many ways.”

“A lot of people came out to express their displeasure of folks from the federal government here and engaging in crowd control with members of our community,” Lovell said. “So I’m hoping that on many levels that people are happy in this development.”

The U.S. government had arrested 94 people as of Wednesday, the most recent accounting. Since the protests began, Lovell said local police made more than 400 arrests.

© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


20 Comments

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Moms, Dads, Veterans and Lawyers = 1

Chad and Trump = 0

Gestapo - beaten by average citizens with no weapons. A model we need to keep in mind when they come to a city near you.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Another failure for the Trump/barr regime. Their wag-the-dog did briefly draw media attention away from their failed handling of the pandemic (150,000 dead, 4 million sickened - and counting) and an economy at its lowest level in decades with few if any prospects for a recovery any time soon. But now their assault on American citizens is just another failure.

Trump's legacy will be described in a single word: FAILURE.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But, but they are wild anarchisticism fascists! A partisanismistic mob of liberal commies! They’ll burn that courthouse to the ground given the opportunity!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Imagine that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Some of us aren't the least surprised. The funny thing I read today in another media outlet was the DHS people on the ground in Portland can't figure out what the purpose of the protests there are! Amazing but then again maybe not.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Moms, Dads, Veterans and Lawyers = 1

Chad and Trump = 0

Gestapo - beaten by average citizens with no weapons. A model we need to keep in mind when they come to a city near you."

The problem in Portland and Seattle is there is a small group of actual anarchists who cause all the problems. In another media outlet there is an article about black protesters in Portland growing fed up with this small group of whites who show up around midnight and start problems. They are telling them to go home. They are drowning out the voices and the message of the blacks who want police reform and are not trying to storm the Federal Building.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Federal Troops withdrawing from cities ?

Is this an article about the Syrian Civil War?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

group of people blocking the street right now, preventing people from returning home from work and taking their children home to go to bed. They just arent throwing things (yet), its still early.

Black people are among those being blocked as white people are screaming Black Lives Matter,

Black person said "if Black llves matter, let me go home".

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@The Avenger, @Bob Fosse

I don’t know what Portland you’re watching, but the riots preceded the arrival of federal officers.

Can you explain that, and why they were necessary in the first place?

Good luck doing so.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

When the people aren't treated like criminals, they stop acting like them.

Go figure.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

so who forced these people to attack the federal building again?

they acted like criminals first, then attracted federal law enforcement.

its cute that one night is "relatively" calm and you think they are done.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

so who forced these people to attack the federal building again?

Damn graffiti artists.

Black people dying at the hands of police was clearly a better state of events.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

oh graffiti isnt spraypainted anymore? it is delivered by thrown explosive device and starting fires?

how does violent white people attacking the federal building stop Black people from dying?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I love the hyperbole of "gestapo" and "troopers" that the hysterical left uses. If they had any actual knowledge of history, they would see the utter folly and idiocy of such comparisons.

"Peaceful protesters" don't show up with rocks, molotov cocktails, industrial grade fireworks, and lasers. Read any accounts of journalists who were actually on the scene and then get back here. It was utter chaos. Just look at the condition of the buildings in Portland and tell me with a straight face that the damage was caused by "peacuful" protesters.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

how does violent white people attacking the federal building stop Black people from dying?

How do violent police keep killing black people?

See how this goes in circles.

Because your team's hard-line uncompassionate, extremist right-wing stance has led to this.

Then you claim cluelessness, and anger that it happens.

Sucks lying in the bed you make.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

sure its called deflection and not answering the question.

how does attacking a federal building stop Black people from getting killed by police? what is the connection?

How do violent police keep killing black people?

See how this goes in circles.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Can you explain that, and why they were necessary in the first place?

It’s because of the fundamental inability to listen, by the people you are defending, that this situation has been created.

So, no. I won’t explain anything to you. Figure it out by yourself.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

funniest headline of the day from Portland

"Gabriel Agard-Berryhill, the grandma vest Antifa, has been charged with throwing the explosive at the courthouse."

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Violent police keep killing black (and other) people because they are poorly trained and are part of a paranoid police culture that emphasizes an "us vs. them" mentality rather than focusing on community engagement. On a personal level, I am aghast at the militarization of policing and the unnecessary proliferation of police departments.

Now, why do black Americans kill each other at the rate of more than 7,000 per year? This is considerably more than the 10 or so unarmed blacks killed by police each year.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

funniest headline of the day from Portland

You have 3 more months to enjoy funny headlines. Enjoy it while you can.

Now, why do black Americans kill each other at the rate of more than 7,000 per year? This is considerably more than the 10 or so unarmed blacks killed by police each year.

This again? The same logic the corona deniers use by pointing out that flu kills more to invalidate issue at hand.

Stay on topic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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