Federal Officers Deploy Tear Gas in Portland to Disperse Demonstration

September 19, 2020 Updated: September 20, 2020

Federal officers used crowd-control munitions, including tear gas, to disperse an unlawful gathering in Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 18 from an immigration facility.

Breaking a lull that had prevailed for about two weeks, demonstrators marched to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building.

Federal officers quickly moved to disperse the gathering, making arrests, and pushing the crowd into a nearby neighborhood. Portland police officers then declared an unlawful assembly and ordered the crowd to continue dispersing, the city’s police bureau said in a statement.

Eleven people who engaged in criminal activity, including hurling objects at officers, were arrested, the bureau stated.

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Federal officers face off with a crowd in Portland, Ore., Sept. 18, 2020. (Paula Bronstein/AP Photo)
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Protesters use umbrellas to block less-lethal rounds fired by federal officers during a dispersal at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
People use umbrellas to block less-lethal rounds fired by federal officers during an unlawful assembly at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Video footage showed several hundred people trespassing on federal property, shouting and spraying graffiti, prompting federal officers to order them to leave. Among their chants was: “How do you spell NAZI? DHS!”

When the crowd refused to disperse, officers made arrests and later used crowd-control munitions.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to a request for details on the response.

Many people in the crowd appeared to be connected to Antifa, the far-left, anarcho-communist network that has contributed to the violence seen in Oregon’s largest city since May 28.

Near-nightly riots abruptly came to a halt on Sept. 7 as wildfires loomed, before the Sept. 18 gathering.

City, county, and state officials have struggled to quell the unrest.

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Tear gas fills the air during the dispersal of an unlawful assembly at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Paula Bronstein/AP Photo)
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Police arrest a person during the dispersal of an unlawful assembly at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Paula Bronstein/AP Photo)
Epoch Times Photo
Police arrest a person during the dispersal of an unlawful assembly at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Portland, Ore., on Sept. 18, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, dispatched state troopers to the city in late August after a man was shot dead, allegedly by a self-described Antifa member who was later killed by law enforcement officers. But Brown has refused to send National Guard members, saying they aren’t trained for the job.

Guardsmen in other states have quickly put an end to rioting, including in Wisconsin this month.

In an attempt to deescalate the situation, Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler announced on Sept. 10 that he was barring police officers from using tear gas while responding to protests and riots.

“It’s time for everyone to reduce the violence in our community. We all want change. We all have the opportunity and obligation to create change. We all want to focus on the fundamental issue at hand—justice for black people and all people of color,” Wheeler, a Democrat, said in a video statement.

Portland police were already limited to only using tear gas in situations where a life is at risk, but those situations were occurring regularly during rioting, according to police officials.

Wheeler’s move was roundly opposed by the bureau and the Portland Police Association, a police union.

“This ban will blow up in the mayor’s face,” the union stated. “What he does not seem to understand is that the CS ban will force officers to use more impact munitions and use more physical force to disperse crowds. His decision hurts community safety and impacts officer safety.”

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