PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Cautious relief is the theme among protesters as they await the impending departure of federal officers from Portland streets.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown tweeted Wednesday morning “the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland” starting Thursday.
Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf confirmed the news, saying in a statement that federal officers will be replaced with Oregon State Police.
But despite these developments, many remain skeptical that federal officers will actually leave due to comments made by President Donald Trump.
“If they don’t secure their city soon, we have no choice — we will have to go in there and clean it out. We will do it very easily. We are prepared to do it,” he said during a Wednesday morning press conference, shortly before Brown’s announcement on the departure of federal agents. “They need to clean out their city and do it right or we’re going to clean it out for them.”
“I hope and pray that it’s true but I don’t believe a word that he says anymore,” said Alea Dumas, who wants federal officials to leave. “I definitely think that they shouldn’t be here.”
Clashes between protesters and federal agents have often resulted in scenes that look more like war zones than the streets of a bustling American metropolis. Officials on Wednesday were making repairs to the fence around the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse — the flashpoint of the bitter dissension between large numbers of demonstrators and federal agents.
“I think that it’s awesome, it would be nice to see a gesture on their behalf: deescalate the situation,” volunteer EMT Kevin Bower told KOIN 6 News while watching the fence repairs.
Bower said he found himself on the receving end of tear gas on two separate occasions while among protesters.
“I was packing my stuff up and they tear-gassed the whole square. I don’t get that — in my opinion — why, when they had it under control?” Bower wondered.
Oregon Senator Floyd Prozanski has invited Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to testify before the Oregon Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform.
“Oregonians deserve to hear you account for your agents’ unconstitutional violation of citizens’ rights,” Prozanski told Wolf. “Specifically, detaining and moving peaceful protesters not on federal property without probable cause or their consent; hitting non-violent protesters with batons and spraying them with chemicals.”
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