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'Who's escalating this? It's not us': Portland protester says federal agents deliberately intensifying violence

The state's governor said federal troops should leave Portland beginning Thursday

Graig Graziosi
Thursday 30 July 2020 21:19 BST
Barr insists federal agents in Portland are 'not looking for trouble'

Protesters in Portland claim federal agents occupying the city are intentionally escalating violence in the city.

Donald Trump deployed federal agents to protect a federal courthouse in Portland, against the wishes of the city's mayor, Ted Wheeler.

The federal agents were tasked with protecting the courthouse and subduing the protesters. They have been filmed arresting people without explanation and forcing them into unmarked vans, beaten protesters with batons, and used tear gas and pepper spray against demonstrators since arriving in the city.

A protester told MSNBC that the federal agents were escalating tensions at the protests.

"We came out here in t-shirts, they started gassing us. We came back with respirators, they started shooting us. We came back with vests, they started aiming for the head... And now they call us terrorists. Who's escalating this? It's not us," the protester said.

On Wednesday, Governor Kate Brown of Oregon said that all Customs and Border Protection and ICE agents would leave Portland and be replaced by Oregon State Police.

Her statement may have come too soon, as US Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf contradicted her, stating that federal agents would stay in the city "until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked".

Mr Trump weighed in on the matter as well in a tweet on Thursday.

"Kate Brown, Governor of Oregon, isn't doing her job. She must clear out, and in some cases arrest, the Anarchists & Agitators in Portland. If she can't do it, the Federal Government will do it for her. We will not be leaving until there is safety," he wrote.

Mr Wolf said federal troops would leave once they had assurance that the federal facilities would be protected. Mr Trump appears to have moved the goalposts and threatened to leave the agents in Portland until political dissidents are "cleared out".

Ms Wolf replied with her own tweet, calling Mr Trump's invasion of Portland a "failure".

"I think we've had enough political grandstanding from DC. The President's plan to 'dominate' the streets of American cities has failed," she wrote. "We will protect free speech and the right to protest peacefully."

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