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Feds agree to leave Portland; Governor Kate Brown gives them one last ‘kick’ on the way out

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Federal officers will begin leaving the city of Portland according to an announcement from Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.

The state apparently negotiated a deal with the federal government to secure the departure of federal agents who have been working to protect federal properties amid violent rioting and protests that have gone on nightly for two months. Brown and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf both released statements about the withdrawal on Wednesday.

(Image: USA Today screenshot)

“After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence,” Brown wrote on Twitter. “Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland.”

In a separate statement, Wolf indicated that he and Brown had been in contact over the last 24 hours 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,” the DHS chief said.

President Trump appeared to react to the news in a pair of tweets Wednesday, saying “there would be no Portland” if federal agents had not intervened last week.  “It would be burned and beaten to the ground.”

According to Wolf, DHS agents will remain 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,” he said, though Brown’s remarks seemed to indicate that all Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would be leaving the ravaged city as early as Thursday.

New policies unanimously passed by the City Council last week had barred the Portland Police Bureau from any cooperation with federal law enforcement officers. Brown tweeted Wednesday that “local Oregon State Police officers will be downtown to protect Oregonians’ right to free speech and keep the peace.”

Portland’s Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler, who was hit with tear gas when he joined demonstrators near the federal courthouse last week, had thumbed his nose at any offers of federal assistance to restore order in the city besieged by protests and rioting.

Wheeler had declared earlier this month that he would “decline” to meet with DHS leaders even if he was invited but on Monday, he joined Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to demand an “immediate” meeting in order to negotiate a “cease-fire.”

Federal agents, including the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and a U.S. Customs and Border Protection team, had been enlisted to quell the violent demonstrations in Portland where rioters set fire to the Portland Police Association building after breaking into it.

Trump’s call for federal intervention sent Democrats and other critics into a meltdown over the supposedly unidentified federal forces in unmarked vehicles detaining rioters. The mayor accused DHS of a “federal occupation” while City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly accused the administration of “attempting to use Portland as a proving ground for fascism.”

Attorney General William Bar delivered a hearty defense of law enforcement during a House Judiciary Committee hearing filled with contentious rhetoric from Democrats attacking him for using the protests for footage in Trump’s reelection campaign.

“Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters has laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property,” Barr said in his opening remarks, adding that they “arrive equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles, and explosive devices.”

“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the Government of the United States,” he added. “As elected officials of the federal government, every Member of this Committee – regardless of your political views or your feelings about the Trump Administration – should condemn violence against federal officers and the destruction of federal property.”

Frieda Powers

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