Agreement for the withdrawal of highly controversial federal police officers from Portland

(Portland) Departure of “occupying forces” for the Democratic governor, “cooperation” too long awaited for the Minister of Homeland Security: the authorities of Oregon and the government of Donald Trump announced Wednesday that they had reached agreement on phasing out federal police from Portland.

Javier TOVAR with Laurent BANGUET in Los Angeles

France Media Agency

“After discussions with the vice-president and administration officials, the federal government has accepted my request and will start withdrawing its agents” as of Thursday 30 July, wrote in a statement Kate Brown, Democratic governor of this state in the northwest of the United States.

For his part, Acting Homeland Security Minister Chad Wolf stressed that these federal agents were “still there” and would stay “until we see that the plan is working and the tribunal does not ‘is not perpetually under attack’.

The local police must ensure the maintenance of order outside the buildings, with the federal agents in charge of securing the premises as usual.


Mothers block the passage of a vehicle of federal agents deployed in Portland

“The state of Oregon has finally agreed to cooperate with our federal forces, exactly what we have been asking for since the violence erupted two months ago. We are happy that Oregon is correcting its mistakes, ”said the minister.

The message was however scrambled by President Donald Trump, who had launched a few hours earlier that local authorities had to first “cleanse” the city of “anarchists and agitators”, praising “the fantastic work” federal police officers.

He reiterated his attacks while traveling to Texas, threatening to “send the National Guard” to Portland.

“If they don’t fix the problem locally very soon, we’ll send the National Guard in and fix it very quickly,” said President Trump.


A protester walks through tear gas smoke, Portland, Oregon

Lattice but unmarked vehicles

The death of George Floyd, black forty-something suffocated on 21 May in Minneapolis by a white policeman, sparked massive anti-racism protests across the United States. Mobilization weakened considerably, but pockets of protest persisted, especially in Portland, which was clearly marked on the left.

The deployment of federal agents, sometimes from customs or border police and sporting a whole military panoply, has had the effect of hardening the movement in this city with a long history of protest.

Videos showing officers in fatigues but circulating in unmarked vehicles to arrest certain demonstrators in the streets caused a scandal in particular. They helped broaden the audience for the Portland anti-racist protests, held every night outside federal court.


The “mothers wall” during a demonstration, in Portland

For the past two weeks, these peaceful gatherings have almost systematically degenerated into clashes with the police.

Tuesday again, this had allowed the Minister of Justice, Bill Barr, to paint an apocalyptic picture of the situation, evoking “hundreds of rioters” equipped with “slingshots, tasers, hammers, saws, knives , guns, explosives… ”, to justify the intervention of the federal police.

Governor Kate Brown has a radically different interpretation of the facts. “These federal policemen acted as an occupation force, refused to account and brought violence and conflict to our city,” she accuses in her statement.

A growing number of anti-racist activists from the “Black Lives Matter” movement have deplored in recent days this violence on both sides, which according to them distracts attention from the message that ‘they intend to wear.

Since sending federal forces to Portland, the government has decided to send them to other major cities across the country, mostly run by Democrats, such as Chicago.

The government of Donald Trump announced on Wednesday the dispatch of these forces to three new cities (Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee), officially to help them stem an upsurge in crime.