President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter Sunday that he is trying to assist Portland after months of protests and riots by sending in federal law enforcement, which triggered a backlash from the city’s mayor and Oregon’s governor.
“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” the president wrote. “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!” Trump added, without elaborating.
Over the weekend, meanwhile, rioters broke inside a Portland Police Association building and set it on fire, also setting fire in dumpsters nearby, according to the Portland Police Bureau.
“As the crowd was dispersed, several people in the crowd were arrested and officers were able to extinguish the fire. Portland Police did not use any CS gas,” the bureau said on Sunday.
They were also seen dismantling a fence around a federal courthouse, hours after it was put up. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon said that the fence was to “de-escalate tensions between protesters and law enforcement officials and asked people to leave it alone.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, has said that a small group of violent anarchists was drowning out the overarching Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of George Floyd’s death. But the mayor called on the Trump administration to pull back, claiming that it is exacerbating the unrest.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Wheeler said Friday.
In a lawsuit against the federal government, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum requested that the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the Federal Protection Service stop making more arrests in the city.
“These tactics must stop,” Rosenblum said in a statement. “They not only make it impossible for people to assert their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully, they also create a more volatile situation on our streets.”
The methods, she added, are “entirely unnecessary and out of character with the Oregon way,” without elaborating.
“The federal administration has chosen Portland to use their scare tactics to stop our residents from protesting police brutality and from supporting the Black Lives Matter movement,” she said. “Every American should be repulsed when they see this happening. If this can happen here in Portland, it can happen anywhere.”
But the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pushed back against those assertions.
“The [Customs and Border Protection] agents identified themselves and were wearing CBP insignia during the encounter,” the DHS said in a statement. “The names of the agents were not displayed due to recent doxing incidents against law enforcement personnel who serve and protect our country.”