The withdrawal of federal police officers from the front for demonstrations in the city of Portland has significantly reduced tensions in the city overnight.
Protesters in support of the Black Lives Matter rallied near the federal courtroom that became a flashpoint, and the scene of evening battles amid the tear gas pull, after Donald Trump sent agents to end what he called anarchy in the city after weeks of demonstrations. .
But in the absence of federal officials, Thursday evening’s protest passed without a major incident or police intervention.
On Wednesday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown agreed with the White House that state police take over responsibility for guarding the courthouse after weeks of escalating protests. She said “Trump’s troops” were behaving like an army occupying Portland and provoking trouble with heavy tactics.
In contrast, state troops did not intervene even as the scale of Thursday night’s protest passed the point, as protesters shook the fence around the courthouse, where in the demonstrations early federal agents generally fired tear gas, grenades and gates.
In the absence of a confrontation, and with the state police remaining largely unseen inside the court, tensions quickly eased. Without federal forces to draw attention, protest organizers have kept the focus on Black Lives Matters and Portland police reform.
Some in the crowd worked to prevent trouble by stopping protesters from lighting fires and firing fireworks in court as they had done the previous nights.
Dan Thomas, an African American man, was on the road shouting at people not to cause a confrontation with the state police.
“Attacking federal buildings is not Black Lives Matter. Leave him alone. You’re playing into Trump’s hands, ”he said.
One woman shouted, “Stupid cute white people here just for their reasons.”
Despite the concerns of many in the crowd that the Trump administration would not carry out the deal to pull back federal officials, none were seen on the streets.
Trump tweeted that agents remain in Portland until Brown brings the protests led by “anarchists and agitators” under control.
“If you can’t do that, the Federal Government will do it. We won’t leave until there is security!” Trump wrote.
Brown and Portland mayor Ted Wheeler said state and city police forces are trying to wipe out the protests instead of confronting protesters.
Wheeler said city police, state troops and the county sheriff’s office agreed not to use tear gas except where there was a life-threatening or serious injury.
“Federal officials are using CS gas widely, indiscriminately and at night,” he said. “That’s why it’s escalating the behavior we’re seeing on the streets rather than removing it, and that’s why it has to end.”
Wheeler apologized to Portland police for using tear gas in May and June to break up the Blacks of Life protests.
“It never happened,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Portland police cleared both parks in front of the county courthouse and jail that served as a stopover for the protests. Officers then sealed the parks and marked them as closed. But that seemed strangely provocative and difficult to enforce.
When a few protesters tore off the yellow police tape and started crying: “Who is parking? Our park? ”Portland city officials quietly left the park and did not reappear for the rest of the evening.