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US Federal Agents Agree to Leave Portland, With Conditions

Federal officers are surrounded by smoke as they push back demonstrators during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, July 29, 2020.

The U.S. government says it will withdraw the federal tactical teams that have clashed with protesters in Portland, Oregon, beginning Thursday provided they are confident of an end to the violence and vandalism that have accompanied weeks of protests in the Pacific Coast city.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown made no mention of the conditions in her own announcement of the agreement reached Wednesday. “Our local Oregon State Police will be downtown to protect free speech and keep the peace,” she wrote on her Twitter account.

Declaring that the agreement followed discussions involving Vice President Mike Pence and other federal officials, she said, “Let's center the Black Lives Matter movement's demands for racial justice and police accountability. It's time for bold action to reform police practices.”

Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, confirmed that the governor and federal authorities had agreed to end “the violent activity in Portland aimed at federal property and law enforcement officers.”

But he said they would proceed with the withdrawal of security personnel only if officials are confident that federal properties will no longer come under attack.

The federal forces were sent to Oregon’s largest city to protect a federal courthouse after weeks of demonstrations, some turning violent, sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
Over time the protests escalated with some demonstrators targeting the courthouse with rocks, fireworks and laser pointers. Federal agents responded with tear gas, batons, and arrests.

Earlier Wednesday, U.S President Donald Trump praised the federal agents in Portland and insisted they would not leave until local authorities “secured their city.”