Oregon Governor Kate Brown on Wednesday announced she has negotiated the phased removal of federal agents from Portland beginning the following day.
Officers were deployed by the federal government to protect the U.S. courthouse in downtown Portland after weeks of what law enforcement has described as violent riots centered on it and the neighboring Multnomah County Justice Center.
However, the actions of federal officers have been increasingly criticized in recent days, including accusations that they have detained suspects in violation of their constitutional rights, and citizens and elected leaders alike have demanded their removal.
On Wednesday, the governor’s office released the following statement:
“After my repeated requests, the federal government has agreed to a phased withdrawal of federal officers that have been deployed to the Mark Hatfield United States Courthouse over recent weeks.
“These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community. Beginning Thursday, all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers will leave downtown Portland, and shortly thereafter will begin going home.
“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. They will also clean up the Courthouse, removing the graffiti.
“The local Oregon officers of the Oregon State Police will 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.
“I have grown increasingly concerned at the nightly confrontation between local community members and federal officers. We need to recognize that the protests in Portland are not solely about the federal presence. They started before federal agents descended on our city and they will likely continue after they leave.
“Across America and across Oregon, the Black Lives Matter movement has led a historic uprising, centering black voices demanding justice and greater police accountability.
“While I recently signed six police accountability bills, championed by the Legislature’s People of Color Caucus, and convened a Task Force to review and reform Oregon training and certification procedures for all local police officers, there is so much more to be done. The community is demanding more sweeping action. I agree.
“I will work with community leaders and elected officials to take bolder action to reform our police practices – including those of the Portland Police Bureau. We need to get this right.
“We have an opportunity that we cannot afford to waste. The departure of federal forces represents the beginning of a process that will be as difficult as it is overdue.
“If slavery is America’s original sin, then anti-Blackness is Oregon’s. Even before it was recognized as a state, Oregon prevented African Americans from settling here and owning property. For far too long, Oregon’s constitution ingrained discrimination into state law.
“Black, white, brown, and indigenous Oregonians are ready to address systemic racism. Let’s get to work.”
Moments after Governor Brown’s announcement, President Donakd Trump responded.
“If the Federal Government and its brilliant Law Enforcement (Homeland) didn’t go into Portland one week ago, there would be no Portland — It would be burned and beaten to the ground,” he said on Twitter. “If the Mayor and Governor do not stop the Crime and Violence from the Anarchists and Agitators immediately, the Federal Government will go in and do the job that local law enforcement was supposed to do!”
Photo by Dave Killen, of The Oregonian. Used with permission.
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