PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Federal officers deployed multiple volleys of tear gas and made arrests as several hundred people protested in downtown Portland for the 62nd consecutive night, hours after state leaders announced federal agents would soon leave the streets of Portland.
Governor Kate Brown said early Wednesday morning that all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland. Federal officers will be replaced with Oregon State Police beginning Thursday, though acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said the agents will remain in the city “until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked…”
Federal officers issued their first warning of the night shortly before 11 p.m., cautioning people to leave the fence alone or face potential arrest. A few minutes later, federal officers started deploying tear gas and crowd control munitions.
Some people could be seen climbing over the fence and climbing back out at about 11:30 p.m. Federal agents fired another round of tear gas and stun grenades but a large crowd remained crushed against the fence, undeterred.
Federal officials declared an unlawful assembly at about 11:40 p.m. and asked “peaceful protesters” to leave the area.
Some protesters holding American flags and veterans with signs met face-to-face in a silent standoff with federal officers at SW 3rd Avenue. Christine VanOsdol was one of the veterans who refused to move as officers approached. She’s a U.S. Army Desert Storm veteran and doctor of occupational therapy.
“I’m out here to stand for the United States Constitution and for people’s right to free speech and to stand here and ask for better from our leaders,” she told KOIN 6 News. “This breaks my heart… they’re committing war crimes against US citizens for standing up for Constitutional rights.”
Air Force veteran Jiri Rivers told KOIN 6 News seeing federal agents on the streets of Portland, engaging with protesters, “fills him with rage.” He said officers specifically targeted a medic in their group, hitting that person with two concussion grenades.
Around 12:30 a.m., officers held someone face-down on the ground and handcuffed them before dragging the person through a garage door on the back side of the federal courthouse building. Moments later, they arrested a second person just around the corner, taking them through a garage door on the building’s north side.
Around 1 a.m. a man from Seattle took at least two less lethal rounds to the legs, at least one of which became embedded in his shin.
Kyle Reder said he came to join Portland’s protests two days ago because demonstrations in Seattle have slowed down.
“Once the feds came down here, we’re like nope, we’re coming down,” Reder said as medics bandaged his legs. “‘Cause this is not fair. It’s tyranical. It’s fu**ing unjust. I’m getting shot … just because I don’t want racism to exist.”
Around 1:40 a.m., KOIN 6 News witnessed federal agents jump out of one of two unmarked vehicles near Salmon and 3rd. The officers got back in and the cars headed west.
By 2 a.m. only 100 or so people remained in the area near the federal courthouse. Members of the crowd occasionally hopped the fence or threw things over it, prompting additional volleys of pepper balls from officers.
Just before 5:30 a.m., Portland police began tweeting that Chapman and Lownsdale Squares remain closed. PPB ordered everyone inside the park and on the sidewalks to immediately leave to the north within 10 minutes — saying otherwise, people are subject to arrest, citation, or crowd control agents.
Wednesday night’s demonstrations also come on the heels of infighting between Portland’s Wall of Moms and other groups. The Wall of Moms formed less than two weeks ago and quickly became a pillar of the downtown protests, garnering national media attention. Now it is facing a major shakeup as the group reckons with accusations leadership silenced Black voices.
On Instagram, Don’t Shoot Portland urged people to stop supporting the Wall of Moms.
A new Facebook group called Moms United For Black Lives also appeared, collecting more than 5,000 members by Wednesday evening. The new leaders are listed as executive director of Don’t Shoot Portland Teressa Raiford, Demetria Hester and Danialle James.
Federal officers clashed with the crowd outside the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse several times late Tuesday and into Wednesday morning. They declared an unlawful assembly around 1:35 a.m. after warning demonstrators numerous times to stop launching fireworks at the building.
Officers went into the streets around 2:15 a.m. to disperse the crowd using tear gas, flash bangs, and other crowd control munitions. Federal authorities have deployed tear gas each night for at least two weeks now. Some in the crowd continued throwing objects and shooting fireworks at federal agents. The crowd mostly dissipated by 3 a.m.