Portland must be free of violent protesters before federal officers operating in the city can leave, Donald Trump has warned, after the Oregon government announced that agents would be replaced by state police.
“Homeland Security is not leaving Portland until local police complete cleanup of Anarchists and Agitators!” the US president tweeted on Saturday.
Local media reported that Friday night’s protest in the city was attended by several thousand people and was largely peaceful.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) chief Chad Wolf and Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced on Wednesday a joint plan to reduce the role of federal agents charged with guarding the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse against increasingly violent protests.
Under the agreement, Oregon State Police will be tasked with supervising demonstrations in the downtown area, while DHS agents will remain on standby and will only be used as a last resort.
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However, Trump has repeatedly stated that the withdrawal of federal forces could only happen if the violence in Portland comes to an end. The president warned on Thursday that he would deploy the National Guard to the city if local law enforcement were unable to cope with the “beehive of terrorists” who have been protesting outside the federal courthouse for more than two months.
The presence of federal agents in Portland has sparked a nationwide debate, with state officials and media accusing the DHS task force of excessive force and seizing and detaining protesters without probable cause. Officials in Washington have argued that the officers, which were deployed in early July, have been assaulted and attacked for weeks and have only retaliated when protesters become violent.
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