Feds to withdraw from Portland, OSP will be downtown

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Governor Brown said federal officers will be leaving the ground in Portland by Thursday.

She tweeted the news early Wednesday morning.

“After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland,” she said.

Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the news, saying in a statement that federal officers will be replaced with Oregon State Police.

“That plan includes a robust presence of Oregon State Police in downtown Portland,” he said.

He said the DHS officers will remain in the city but not on the ground or outside.

“The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure.  This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began.”

On a call on Wednesday morning, Wolf said Governor Brown is the one who initiated the change.

“I’m glad she changed her mind, I’m glad she reached out,” he said.

Customs and Border Patrol Director Mark Morgan tweeted:

“Let me be clear, the highly trained and dedicated @CBP officers and agents are not leaving Portland. We will remain until the violent criminal activity towards our federal facilities and personnel ends.”

Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said OSP is honored to aid the city of Portland.

“Beginning this Thursday, OSP special operation teams and some uniformed troopers will enter into a two week rotation within Portland to assist our federal partners and the Portland Police Bureau. OSP hopes to develop an atmosphere that affords the removal of the protective fence and restore a semblance of normalcy, while meeting community expectations and our obligations to protect the federal property.

OSP troopers are Oregonians and members of your community. We are committed to doing our part to restore trust and efforts towards collaborative, productive reforms the community is demanding. We look forward to working with the City of Portland and others towards this goal, asking the community to recognize and support our efforts,” he said in a statement.

The news comes after reports that Mayor Ted Wheeler was also in discussions with the White House to have officers removed. Other reports on Tuesday said more officers were being deployed.

In a tweet, Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden said, “From Day One, I have pressed the Trump administration to withdraw its occupying army from my hometown. I will watchdog today’s announcement to ensure that it happens, and is not the administration’s usual penchant for fiction.”

Also on Wednesday morning, in direct contradiction with Governor Brown’s and Wolf’s announcement, President Trump said agents were not withdrawing in comments made outside the White House.

“We’re hearing all sorts of reports about us leaving. We’re not leaving until they secure their city.  We told the governor, we told the mayor: secure your city. If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice, we will have to go in there and clean it out,” he said.

The federal presence in the Rose City has further inflamed the protests, with crowds only growing larger as they continue into the second month of demonstrations.

Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets for a 61st straight night of protests against police, systemic racism, and other causes Tuesday evening amid reports that federal officers could soon leave the city if local authorities step up enforcement.

By late Tuesday night, at least 1,000 people had gathered near the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and Justice Center. Federal officers issued at least 10 verbal warnings to protesters to stop tampering with the fence and to stop lighting fireworks. One man protesting inside the fenced area held a single flower, and was still there after federal officers emerged from the courthouse for the first time that evening with pepper balls.

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