PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — President Donald Trump is considering sending 175 federal troops to cities to help local law enforcement with protests, including Portland.
In remarks Monday morning, Trump said, “They were for 51 days ripping down that city, looting it. The level of corruption and what’s going on there’s incredible. And the governor comes, ‘We don’t need any help.'”
Trump said he’s considering sending law enforcement to Chicago and New York for similar reasons.
Protesters outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse set a fire in the building’s entryway early Monday in yet another night of conflict with federal agents who repeatedly tear gassed the demonstrators to drive them away, officials said.
Top leaders in the U.S. House said Sunday they were “alarmed” by the Trump administration’s tactics against protesters in Portland and other cities, including Washington, D.C. They’ve called on federal inspectors general investigate.
“This is a matter of utmost urgency,” wrote House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson, D-Mississippi, and Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney, D-New York, in a letter to the inspectors general of Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security.
The Democratic lawmakers are seeking an investigation “into the use of federal law enforcement agencies by the Attorney General and the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security to suppress First Amendment protected activities in Washington, D.C., Portland, and other communities across the United States.”
Sunday night in Portland
Authorities over the weekend erected large fences around the building in an effort to keep away the protesters who have been on Portland’s streets daily since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis nearly two months ago.
But video posted online showed protesters taking down the fencing and a statement from Portland’s city police department described the protesters’ tactics as they repeatedly headed toward the courthouse and were repelled by federal agents who emerged from inside.
Hundreds of protesters were at the scene Sunday night into early Monday morning and at one point “dozens of people with shields, helmets, gas masks, umbrellas, bats, and hockey sticks approached the doors” of the courthouse until federal officers came out and dispersed them, the Portland police statement said.
The protesters later lit a fire at about 1:30 a.m. Monday within the portico of the courthouse, said Portland police, who stressed that their officers were not involved in any crowd control measures, did not fire tear gas and “were not present during any of the activity described.”
Other people added wood and debris to the fire to make it larger and federal agents came out of the courthouse, “dispersed the crowd and extinguished the fire,” the statement said.