PORTLAND, Ore. Portland had its first night in weeks without tear gas after state police took over from federal agents guarding a courthouse that has been the focal point of violence between protesters and tactical officers.
The agents withdrew under a deal between Oregon’s Democratic governor and U.S. officials to end a deployment that sparked a standoff between Republican President Donald Trump and Democratic mayors over the use of federal officers in their cities.
A few hundred people demonstrated outside the federal courthouse until around 2 a.m. when they left of their own accord, according to a Reuters reporter. On previous nights they had been dispersed with tear gas and other munitions fired by federal agents.
“Things went a lot better last night, last night was the first night in about two months that our officers and agents inside the federal court building there in Portland didn’t come under a direct and immediate threat of being burned alive,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott, whose Border Tactical Unit officers have been among Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agents in Portland.
Trump sent federal forces to confront what he called a “beehive of terrorists” in Portland who have set fires and broken windows at the courthouse since late May when protests against police violence began after the death of George Floyd.
Democratic mayors said the deployment had escalated tensions at anti-racism protests and was political theater for Trump’s “law and order” campaign ahead of the Nov.3 election.
A breakthrough came after Oregon Governor Kate Brown agreed to send around 100 state police to the courthouse and Portland police cleared a nearby park used as a protest staging ground, Scott said.
DHS agents remain on standby in the city and National Guard troops could be sent in should state police be overrun, DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf told Fox News after Trump threatened such action on Thursday
Separately, a DHS spokesman said Wolf had ordered an intelligence unit to stop collecting information on American journalists covering protests in Portland after a media report on the practice.
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The Washington Post on Thursday reported that the department compiled “intelligence reports” on journalists using a government system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors. [nL2N2F20XI]
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