Feds Are Phasing Out of Portland, but Will State Police Be Any Better?
Federal agents who have increased tension in Portland over the past couple weeks will finally be leaving the area, but not without leaving scars behind.
Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown said Wednesday she’d reached an agreement with Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and the federal agents will begin a “phased withdrawal” beginning right away. But, the state is expected to fill in the protection downtown with special attention given to the federal properties.
The nearly two months of nightly protests began after the death of George Floyd.
According to the deal, Oregon State Police troops will pick up where the feds leave off, and Donald Trump made it abundantly clear what he thinks of the state’s ability to pull that off, threatening to leave troops in place if the city isn’t “secured.”
He told reporters Wednesday:
“Either they’re gonna clean up Portland soon, or the federal government is going up, and we’re gonna do it for them. So either they clean out Portland — the governor and the mayor, who are weak — either they clean out Portland or we’re going in to do it for them.”
Tuesday night’s protest ended much like every other night recently, with pre-dawn tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. Two groups of protesters have filed a lawsuit over the use of chemical agents and impact munitions, which, although they’re described as non-lethal, can and have caused serious physical harm.Helmet of protester in Portland, Oregon hit with canister shot by police August 4, 2018. Photo courtesy of @wherestherevolt/Twitter
The suit alleges the nightly tear gas has had a severe poisoning effect, inducing vomiting and making it difficult for people to later eat or sleep. They also say the agents are unlawfully outside their jurisdiction.
It’s hard to say that with pressure mounted on by the federal government that local and state police won’t sink to the same brutish levels and deploy the same methods. Brown tried to stop most use of tear gas with a limited ban signed June 30. The ban only allows officers to use the chemical agent when a situation has been deemed a riot and after crowds have been loudly warned.
But officers turned around and used it on protesters just hours later. The federal agents might be leaving the premises but the problems between officers and the public remain. There’s real potential for increased tension if officers attempt to live up to the White House expectations.