Protesters fire explosives at Portland court as deal reached to WITHDRAW fed tactical teams once ‘attack’ ends – The Sun
PROTESTERS fired explosives at the Portland courthouse hours before a deal was reached to withdraw federal troops – if government buildings are no longer attacked.
On Tuesday night, there were reports of a firebomb exploding at the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse, while protesters fired mortars at police, who retaliated with pepper balls and tear gas, a KOIN journalist reported.
Portland Police Department confirmed that at around At 10:45 pm local time, people started a fire inside the fence and began shooting roman candles and fireworks towards the federal building.
"People also threw rocks, bottles, and other objects towards the Courthouse as well as climbed over the fence which protects the Courthouse," their statement read.
"Around this same time, a large fire was set where the Elk statue used to stand. This activity went on for several hours."
Meanwhile the White House has started talks with the Oregon governor’s office about withdrawing the agents sent to quell the violent riots.
An anonymous official told The Associated Press that the talks with the office of Democratic Gov Kate Brown are in the early stages and there is no agreement.
The New York Times reported that although these tactical teams will start phasing out from tomorrow, the acting secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, said this was conditional.
Wolf reportedly said there would be a withdrawal of security personnel in Portland only if the Feds are confident that government property won't be attacked.
Donald Trump also weighed into the debate on Twitter this afternoon, touting the federal intervention.
"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 wrote shortly after 1pm.
"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!"
Earlier, Trump reiterated that the troops wouldn't be leaving until the city was secure.
"We're not leaving until they secure their city," he told reporters. "They don't secure their city soon, we have no choice – we're gonna have to go in and clean it out."
Meanwhile, the city of Portland is suing the Feds for blocking a bike lane outside the courthouse “$500 for every 15 minutes” the path has been blocked since a fence was set up February 22, The Washington Times reported.
The federal troops have come under fire for their aggressive dispersal of protesters as the rallies continue to wreak havoc on the city two months after George Floyd's police custody death in Minneapolis.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, law enforcement officers again used tear gas to disperse people on the streets of Portland as loud booms filled the air.
Just a day earlier, the US Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security were weighing whether to send in more agents.
Spokesman Drew Wade said the marshals were taking steps to identify up to 100 additional personnel who could go in case they were needed to relieve or supplement the deputy marshals who work in Oregon.
Homeland Security was considering a similar measure with Customs and Border Protection agents, according to an anonymous administration official.
Trump did not let up on criticizing local authorities in their handling of the Floyd protests in major US cities.
“We, as you know, have done an excellent job of watching over Portland and watching our courthouse where they wanted to burn it down, they’re anarchists, nothing short of anarchist agitators,” Trump said
“And we have protected it very powerfully. And if we didn’t go there, I will tell you, you wouldn’t have a courthouse. You’d have a billion-dollar burned-out building.”
Elsewhere, in Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday that she had received confirmation that US agents had left her city.
The news comes as the American Civil Liberties Union in Oregon filed a motion alleging that the Feds are attacking journalists and legal observers with riot-control munitions, despite a federal court ordering them to stop.
Last week, the US District Court in Portland temporarily blocked federal officers from targeting journalists and legal observers at the protests.
The ACLU asked the court to hold federal agents in contempt for violating the temporary restraining order and to ask Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli to personally appear and show why they should not be sanctioned for contempt.
The motion was filed after US Attorney General William Barr said “violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests” sparked by Floyd’s death.
The ACLU maintains these federal agents acted unlawfully in Portland.
If we didn’t go there, I will tell you, you wouldn’t have a courthouse. You’d have a billion-dollar burned-out building.
“This administration claims to be defending the federal courthouse, but won’t obey the orders coming out of it. What purpose are these agents actually serving then?” said Kelly Simon, interim legal director of the ACLU of Oregon.
One journalist, Jonathan Levinson of Oregon Public Broadcasting, said in a statement to the court that while he was trying to take a photograph Friday, he saw a federal agent raise his weapon, aim it at him and fire several rounds.
Levinson said he was wearing a press pass and a helmet that says “PRESS” in big letters on the front and back.
Kat Mahoney, a legal observer with the ACLU, said a federal agent fired a paintball at her, hitting her in the head on Friday.
The following night, an agent sprayed her and three other observers in the face as they told him they were legal observers and pointed to their credentials.
Wall of Moms — a group of self-described mothers — and the Don’t Shoot Portland group have sued the Department of Homeland Security, alleging it violated the Constitution by sending federal law enforcement to disperse crowds with tear gas and rubber bullets.
Members of the group of mothers have “been tear-gassed night after night, left vomiting and unable to eat or sleep because of the toxic poison blasted at them,” the lawsuit, cited by AP, said.
On Monday, Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty asked Wolf to discuss a cease-fire and to remove the federal troops.
That day, US Attorney Billy J. Williams countered that the officers will remain there as long as demonstrators continue to attack the courthouse.
Protesters have tried to rip down the protective fence there and set things alight as they hurl Molotov cocktails, bricks, rocks and bottles at the agents inside.
They were met with tear gas, pepper balls and stun grenades fired by agents early on Tuesday night.
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