Tear gas was deployed, according to photos and videos of the scene, but it was not necessarily CS gas. The fences that had been placed around the federal courthouse had also been removed by protesters and turned into barricades, police tweeted.
Police also said protesters gathered in the North Portland Police Station neighborhood on Saturday night, vandalizing patrol vehicles and taunting officers who showed up for work. Later, as the police dispersed a group that had gathered near North Interstate Avenue, people threw stones and balloons filled with paint at the police. Some were injured, the statement said.
US President Donald Trump decried the protests and the acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf criticized the protesters as “lawless anarchists” during a visit to the city on Thursday.
We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are absent in action. We must protect federal property AND OUR PEOPLE. They weren’t just demonstrators, these are the real deal!
– @ realDonaldTrump
“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Their leadership has for months lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are lacking in action. We must protect federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These are not mere demonstrators, this is the real deal! “
Local politicians angry at troop deployment
Before the aggressive language and action of federal officials, the unrest had frustrated Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local authorities, who said that a small group of violent activists were stifling the message of peaceful demonstrators in the city. But Wheeler said the federal presence in the city is now exacerbating a tense situation, and he told them to leave.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings or take them out of our city,” Wheeler said Friday.
Friday evening, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued Homeland Security and the Marshals Service in federal court. According to the complaint, unidentified federal agents caught people on the streets of Portland “without warning or explanation, without a warrant and without providing any means of determining who is leading this action”.
Rosenblum said she was seeking a restraining order to “immediately stop federal authorities from illegally detaining Oregonians.”
The administration has enlisted federal agents, including the US Marshals Special Operations Group and an elite team of US customs and border protection personnel based on the US-Mexico border, to protect federal property.
But Oregon Public Broadcasting reported this week that some officers were driving in unmarked vans and ripped off protesters on streets not near federal property, without identifying themselves.
Tensions also escalated after a marshal’s service officer fired a less lethal shot in the head of a protester on July 11, seriously injuring him.
“We live in a democracy, not in a banana republic”
House of Commons Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Democratic Representative Earl Blumenauer released a joint statement on Saturday denouncing the actions of the Trump administration.
“We live in a democracy, not in a banana republic. We will not tolerate the use of Oregon, Washingtonians – or any other American – as props in President Trump’s political games. The House is committed to act quickly to stop these gross abuses of power immediately, “they said.
Hundreds of people had gathered Friday night for a vigil outside the downtown Justice Center, which is sandwiched between two federal buildings, including a courthouse, The Oregonian / OregonLive reported. Across the street, dozens of other protesters entered two recently closed city parks after dismantling chain-link fences that blocked access.
Federal agents came out of a nearby office building and used impact ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas to clean up the area, the news agency reported. He said his journalists had not observed any incidents that could have encouraged the use of weapons.
Federal officers fired tear gas again just before midnight after a few protesters placed dismantled fences in front of plywood gates covering the entrance to the federal courthouse.
Early Saturday, Portland Police declared the gathering illegal, claiming protesters stacked fences outside the exits of the Federal Courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center and then set off fireworks at the center of justice.
Federal officers and local police then simultaneously advanced on the protesters to clear the streets, making arrests while the protesters threw bottles and pieces of metal fence over the police, said the Portland police station. Portland police chief Chuck Lovell told reporters on Friday that his officers were in contact with federal agents but that neither controlled the actions of the others.
The overnight action by Portland police was condemned by Jo Ann Hardesty, a prominent member of city council. Hardesty said on Saturday that local police “joined in the aggressive crackdown on the peaceful protest.”
She also slammed Wheeler, telling the mayor he needed to better monitor the application of local laws. Hardesty, who oversees the city’s fire department and other first responder agencies, said in an open letter to Wheeler that if “you can’t control the police, give me the Portland police station” .
In a statement on Saturday, Portland police said that in responding to the overnight protests – which included people launching projectiles at them – some federal agencies acted “under their own supervision and direction”. Portland police said city officials arrested seven people and one officer was slightly injured.
The statement said city police support the peaceful protests and that as of Saturday night, Department of Homeland Security police will not be working in the Portland Police Incident Command Center.