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Law and Justice

Portland leaders promise less tear gas as Oregon State Police arrive

Portland Police began clearing Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square in downtown Portland Thursday morning as part of a deal with the Trump administration to remove federal officers from the city's downtown core.
Portland Police began clearing Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square in downtown Portland Thursday morning as part of a deal with the Trump administration to remove federal officers from the city's downtown core.

Portland Police began clearing Lownsdale Square and Chapman Square in downtown Portland Thursday morning as part of a deal with the Trump administration to remove federal officers from the city's downtown core.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Oregon State Police requested the park be cleared as “part of the plan for federal officers to leave our community.”

The parks, adjacent to the Multnomah County Justice Center and the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, have served as an unofficial headquarters for the nightly demonstrations against racism and police violence that have continued in Portland for more than 60 days.

Officials with the Portland Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Parks & Recreation Bureau, along with outreach workers, were stationed at the parks Thursday morning to clear the area of tents, debris and other items that have accumulated over the past two months.

Grills, camping chairs, and bags of trash were hauled away. City workers began removing the benches from the parks and power washing the public bathroom.

Signs were placed on tree trunks saying the parks were temporarily closed. The sidewalk was cordoned off with police tape.

Many people have been living in campsites within the parks since protests began. Orion Crabb, 37, who told OPB he’d been living in the park since the end of May, said everyone living in the area was told to disperse around 6:30 a.m. Thursday. He said he woke up to the sound of Portland Police loudspeaker:

“Hey, you got 10 minutes, clear these park blocks. It was Portland Police, the feds I guess are gone. .. They wanted to establish their authority or something,” he said. “They kicked all of us out.”

Mid-interview a police officer approached to help him find one of his shoes. Crabb said he’d only had time to put one of them on before needing to leave.

As part of the deal reached with federal authorities, Oregon State Police will begin a two-week rotation in Portland Thursday to work with federal law enforcement and PPB.

Wheeler and Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell are scheduled to have separate press conferences Thursday to address ongoing demonstrations in the city.

This story will be updated.

Copyright 2020 Oregon Public Broadcasting