Portland officials demand ‘ceasefire’ as Trump plans to send more federal agents

Mayor Ted Wheeler decries ‘federal occupation’ of Portland while calling Trump’s use of federal agents on protestors ‘a direct threat against democracy’

Chris Riotta
New York
Tuesday 28 July 2020 17:38 BST
'Wall of Moms' joins Portland's anti-racism protests

Portland officials have called for a ceasefire and demanded a “removal of heightened federal forces” from the city as Donald Trump was planning to send more units amid a crackdown on protests across the country.

Mayor Ted Wheeler released a joint statement with commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty calling on top officials from the Department of Homeland Security to an “immediate meeting” about the violent confrontations between officers and demonstrators in recent weeks.

“Today, mayor Ted Wheeler and commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty are calling for an immediate meeting with Department of Homeland Security leadership on the ground in Portland,” the statement read, naming Acting Secretary Chad Wolf as one of the department officials they were seeking a meeting with, “to discuss a cease-fire and removal of heightened federal forces from Portland”.

The local officials also decried the Trump administration’s “federal occupation” of their city.

Black Lives Matter protests — sparked earlier this year following the death of George Floyd — have led to occasionally violent scenes in several cities, with activists holding massive demonstrations outside of the Mark O Hatfield courthouse in Portland and clashing with local police and federal officers in recent nights.

Agents have been accused of detaining citizens unlawfully in unmarked vehicles, causing the hashtag #PortlandKidnappings to trend nationwide.

The violence has been met with widespread backlash from activists and Democrats alike, as lawmakers demand the Trump administration withdraw federal agents from Oregon and discontinue plans to send the officers to other cities facing major protests, like Chicago.

Meanwhile, the White House was reportedly planning on sending at least 100 additional officers to Portland, as reporting from inside the city’s protests revealed violent scenes in which officers were tear gassing demonstrators on a near-nightly basis.

The mayor has decried the presence of federal agents in his city as “a direct threat against democracy” and joined protestors in calling for their removal during a demonstration last week.

Not all Portland officials have condemned the federal government’s presence in the city amid protests: Billy Williams, US attorney for Oregon, decried a decision by the mayor to ban city police from working with federal law enforcement as “nonsensical, political theatre” in an interview with The Oregonian.

He added: “Anyone who thinks we’re just going to give up the courthouse, Hatfield, Pioneer (Courthouse) or any other federal facility downtown, that’s not going to happen.”

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