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Law and Justice

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown Announces ‘Phased’ Removal Of Federal Officers From Portland

People walk the fence surrounding the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 23, 2020. Federal law enforcement officers have arrested 60 people, according to an assistant U.S. attorney, since early July.
Jonathen Levinson
/
OPB
People walk the fence surrounding the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 23, 2020. Federal law enforcement officers have arrested 60 people, according to an assistant U.S. attorney, since early July.

Federal officers will begin leaving the city on Thursday. State police will help protect Portland's federal courthouse

Federal officers who have clashed violently with demonstrators on Portland streets for weeks will begin to depart the city on Thursday, under a deal between the Trump administration and Gov. Kate Brown’s office that was announced Wednesday morning.

In exchange for a phased removal of federal officers brought in to protect federal property in the city, Brown’s office has agreed to help guard against vandalism of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse using state resources alongside the Federal Protective Service.

“After discussions with the Vice President and administration officials this week, the federal government has agreed to my demand and will withdraw these officers from Portland,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday. “They will also clean up the Courthouse, removing the graffiti.”

Brown added Oregon state troopers would “provide protection for free speech and the security of the exterior of the courthouse with the Federal Protective Service. A limited contingent of federal officials, who act as building security year-round, will remain and will stay focused on the interior of the U.S. Courthouse.”

Officers with Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement would depart downtown Portland beginning Thursday, Brown said. OPB reported such a deal was likely in the works earlier Wednesday.

The deal is a remarkable turnaround in a standoff between the Trump administration and Oregon officials. For weeks, federal officers have used tear gas, impact rounds, flash bangs and batons to crack down on demonstrations that have swelled in opposition to their presence.

But even as elected officials at all levels of government called on the federal force to withdraw, the Trump administration repeatedly insisted the influx was necessary to protect against what it has depicted as “violent mobs.” As recently as last weekend Federal authorities were considering stepping up their law enforcement presence in the face of protests that have shown no sign of abating.

Despite the rhetoric on all sides, indications emerged recently that a deal could be in the works. Brown’s office acknowledged Tuesday evening they were in “very serious discussions” with administration officials over pulling out federal forces. And multiple sources told OPB that senior officials in both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security had flown to Portland on Monday to meet with state officials.

Federal officers moved into Portland in early July, after President Trump issued an executive order aimed at protecting federal property. Before long, the stepped-up presence — combined with high-profile incidents of officers injuring and detaining demonstrators — lit a fire under protests against police violence that had been losing steam.