Portland plan in place for federal agents withdrawal if certain conditions are met

West

Federal law enforcement officers close a street downtown as they move towards protesters during a demonstration against police violence and racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

PORTLAND, Ore. (NewsNation) — Oregon’s governor on Wednesday said the federal government agreed to withdraw agents from Portland but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it would keep officers there until it was certain federal properties would not be attacked.

Governor Kate Brown said the government agreed to a phased withdrawal of federal officers deployed at Portland’s Mark Hatfield United States Courthouse after weeks of clashes between activists and agents.

“After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland,” tweeted Brown.

“Beginning Thursday, all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers will leave downtown Portland, and shortly thereafter will begin going home,” Brown said in a statement.

DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed in a statement a plan was agreed upon in which state and local law enforcement would begin to secure areas around federal properties and the federal response would change its “force posture” should conditions significantly improve.

“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,” said Wolf in the statement.

“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,” continued Wolf. “Oregon State Police will coordinate with Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers to ensure all federal facilities remain protected and secure.” 

Wolf declined to provide a timeline for federal officers to leave the city, saying they will remain “until we see that the plan is working.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was also in discussions with the White House to have troops removed.

“We would do well to remember that this movement is not about the legal right of federal law enforcement to operate in our cities. It’s about the urgent and necessary work of criminal justice, racial justice and policing reform,” Wheeler told a briefing on Wednesday with other Democratic mayors.

Also on Wednesday morning, President Trump said troops were not withdrawing in comments made outside the White House.

“We’re hearing all sorts of reports about us leaving. We’re not leaving until they secure their city. We told the governor, we told the mayor: secure your city. If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice, we will have to go in there and clean it out,” said Trump.

According to NewsNation affiliate KOIN, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets for a 61st straight night of protests against police, systemic racism, and other causes Tuesday evening. The federal government deployed teams of tactical agents to Portland in early July to defend the courthouse. By late Tuesday night, at least 1,000 people had gathered near the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and Justice Center.

The Oregon withdrawal plan coincides with the announcement of federal agents deployment to Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit, expanding a separate program aimed at curtailing a surge of violent crime in some cities. Some mayors said they were willing to accept the help, while others expressed concerns.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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