The withdrawal of federal police officers from front-line demonstrations in downtown Portland significantly reduced tensions in the city overnight.
Protesters in support of Black Lives Matter reunited near the federal courthouse that became a starting point, and the scene of nightly battles amidst the swirl of tear gas, after Donald Trump dismissed agents for put an end to what he called anarchy in the city after weeks of demonstrations. .
But in the absence of federal officials, Thursday night’s protest transpired without any incident or police intervention.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown agreed Wednesday with the White House that state police would take responsibility for guarding the court after weeks of escalating protests. He said “Trump’s troops” were behaving like an occupying army in Portland and causing inconvenience with the tactics of their hands.
In contrast, state troops did not intervene even as the focus of Thursday night’s protest passed, as protesters shook the fence around the courthouse, where in the first demonstrations federal agents they usually fired tear gas, grenades and round sticks. .
In the absence of confrontation and with the state police remaining largely in sight of the court, tensions quickly eased. Without federal attention drawing attention, protest organizers kept their attention on Black Lives Matters and Portland police reform.
Some of the crowd worked to prevent trouble by preventing 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 street shouting at people not to provoke a confrontation with state police.
“Attacking the federal building is not Black Lives Matter. Leave him alone. You’re playing into Trump’s hands,” he said.
One woman shouted, “Only stupid-ass white people just here for their own reasons.”
Despite the concern of many in the crowd that the Trump administration would not comply with the agreement to withdraw federal officials, it was not seen on the street.
Trump tweeted that agents would remain in Portland until Brown controls protests led by “anarchists and agitators.”
“If she can’t do it, the Federal Government will do it for her. We won’t leave until there is security.” Trump wrote.
Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said state and city police forces will try to disqualify the protests instead of confronting the protesters.
Wheeler said city police, state troops and the county sheriff’s office had agreed not to use tear gas unless there was a life-threatening or serious injury.
“Federal officials use CS gas extensively, indiscriminately and at night,” he said. “That’s why the behavior we see on the streets is increasing instead of scaling it, and that’s why it has to end.”
Wheeler apologized to Portland police with tear gas in late May and June for ending the Black Lives Matter protests.
“It should never have happened,” he said.
In the early hours of the day, Portland police cleaned up the two parks in front of the county court and jail that served as a staging site for the protests. Officers sealed off the parks and marked them as closed. But this seemed strangely provocative and difficult to enforce.
When a few protesters dropped the yellow police tape and started singing, “Who is the park? Our park? ”Portland City officials left the park quietly and were not seen again for the rest of the night.