PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The morning after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler confirmed his office was in talks with federal officials about the tense situation in downtown Portland, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced certain federal officers will be withdrawn.
Governor Brown said federal officers will be withdrawn from Portland by Thursday at the latest. She tweeted the news early Wednesday morning, saying, “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.”
In a statement released after the announcement, Mayor Wheeler praised Brown’s leadership in discussions with the federal officials — saying their presence has “brought a new kind of fear” to the city streets.
Wheeler will also hold a press conference to discuss “the ongoing tensions in Portland” at 10 a.m. Thursday. KOIN 6 News will cover the press conference, which will be livestreamed on KOIN.com.
“Federal agents nearly killed a demonstrator, and their presence has led to increased violence and vandalism in our downtown core,” the statement read. “The daily coverage of their actions has distracted our community from the Black voices at the center of this movement, and the urgent work of reform.”
He said that the Oregon State Police along with Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Portland Police Bureau will keep working together to keep the community safe. They are directed to only engage with protesters concerning violent criminal activity, according to the mayor.
“For nearly two months, many thousands of Portlanders have committed to conversation and action centered on police and criminal justice system reform in our community. Local and State leaders have taken meaningful steps. And we are poised to do more.
“Today, Council will consider referring a ballot measure to fundamentally reimagine police accountability. The City Council has redirected millions of dollars from the Police Bureau’s budget, and is pressing forward with updates to bureau policies and training,” he said. “We are beginning to work with incoming District Attorney Mike Schmidt to reform the legal arm of the criminal justice system. We are advocating to State and Federal legislators for changes in the law.”
He stated the movements behind these ongoing protests are what needs to be focused on right now.
“The work of reform deserves our community’s full and complete attention, and I know that Portlanders will stay engaged. I’m proud of this community and excited for the work ahead.”
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.