President Donald Trump insisted that the federal government won’t leave Portland, Oregon, until the city was secured following numerous nights of violent unrest.
“They either clean out their city and do it right, or we’re going to have to do it for them,” Trump said, referring to city officials in Portland and Oregon officials. The president made the remark to reporters as he left the White House on Wednesday.
It came after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, announced that she and the federal government reached an agreement for “phased withdrawal” of federal agents from Portland.
“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,” she said in a statement, adding that she had discussions with Vice President Mike Pence and other unspecified administration officials in the past week.
Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have both attempted to characterize the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) agents near the federal courthouse as an infringement of citizens’ rights.
Brown said that Oregon State Police officers will provide protection “for free speech and the security of the exterior of the courthouse,” adding that the federal agents’ response has increased the violence.
But Barr said in a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday that it’s no longer a demonstration.
“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called a protest; it is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States,” Barr told lawmakers.
But Trump and White House officials, including Attorney General William Barr, have said that violent agitators have attacked the courthouse, agents, and other federal buildings.
“As I told the Governor yesterday, federal law enforcement will remain in Portland 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,” wrote DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf in response to Brown’s assertions on Wednesday.
So far, according to U.S. Attorney for Oregon Craig Gabriel, federal agents have arrested or detained some 60 people since the riots started.
“The Department will continue to re-evaluate our security posture in Portland, and should circumstances on the ground significantly improve due to the influx of state and local law enforcement, we anticipate the ability to change our force posture, as we do everyday at our other 9,000 federal properties we protect across the country,” Wolf added in a longer statement.