Federal Officers Declare Unlawful Assembly in Portland, Fire Tear Gas

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
July 30, 2020Updated: July 30, 2020

Federal officers declared an unlawful assembly at the federal courthouse in Portland just before midnight Wednesday, using crowd control measures like tear gas to try to disperse the crowd.

Officers ultimately succeeded in pushing the crowd away from the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, where people have tried for weeks to break in and damage the building.

Multiple arrests were made, though it wasn’t clear how many, and the crowd ultimately dispersed early Thursday.

Neither state troopers nor Portland police officers were seen assisting federal officers, despite an agreement reached hours earlier between Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the federal government.

Timelines given by Brown and federal officials differ in terms of the removal of federal forces. The governor said the withdrawal will begin on Thursday but federal officials said no officers are leaving until local and state officials prove they can protect the courthouse and other federal properties.

Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said the state would provide a presence on the night of July 30.

“Tonight, for the 1st time since violence was directed at federal facilities and people, the state of Oregon is going to cooperate in keeping the peace in Portland,” he said in a statement on Thursday morning.

The level of violence has been dropping all week, an encouraging sign, the official added.

The Trump administration surged federal assets to Portland on July 4 after rioters began targeting the courthouse, threatening to overwhelm the officers stationed there.

Epoch Times Photo
A pyrotechnic mortar explodes in the lobby of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, Ore., overnight July 2, 2020. (Department of Justice)
Epoch Times Photo
A rioter kicks in temporary boarding at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 21, 2020. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)
Epoch Times Photo
Women hold signs outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 29, 2020. (Alisha Jucevic/AFP via Getty Images)

In a video message, Brown described the nightly rioting—which started in late May—as protests.

“The peaceful non-violent protests led by Black Lives Matter activists have inspired the nation, and we have an opportunity to make real and lasting change,” she said.

“The middle of the night confrontations in the streets of Portland—people throwing rocks and burning garbage cans—that has got to stop,” she added later.

Rioters have assaulted police officers with projectiles and lasers and caused significant damage at the courthouse, a nearby county building, and a slew of businesses in downtown Portland.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said federal law enforcement will not leave “until the violent activity toward our federal facilities ends.”

“We are not removing any law enforcement while our facilities and law enforcement remain under attack,” he added in a statement.

President Donald Trump and a spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence sounded a similar message, setting up an interesting Thursday.

“We’re not leaving until they’ve secured their city,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

Later Thursday, Portland police officers cleared Lownsdale Park per a request from the Oregon State Police as part of the plan for federal officers to leave, Mayor Ted Wheeler said.