- President Donald Trump defended deploying federal agents to Portland, Oregon, as trying to help take “control of the anarchists and agitators.”
- Oregon Public Broadcasting reported last week that federal law enforcement officers had arrived in the city in unmarked vehicles and detained protesters with no explanation as to why they were being arrested.
- Trump’s administration has defended the law enforcement presence as part of a federal directive to protect public property in the city amid nightly protests prompted by George Floyd’s death in police custody.
- On Sunday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler rejected Trump’s explanation, saying the deployment was “a direct threat to our democracy” and additional authorities were “escalating an already dangerous situation.”
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President Donald Trump defended deploying federal agents to Portland, Oregon, who appeared last week in unmarked vehicles and detained protesters.
The city has seen nightly demonstrations against racism and police brutality since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported last week that federal law enforcement officers had detained protesters off the street with no explanation as to why they were being arrested as part of a federal directive to protect public property.
Oregon lawmakers denounced the federal government employing “authoritarian tactics” and asked in a July 17 letter for Attorney General William Barr to recall the agents, Insider’s Charles Davis previously reported.
That same day, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued Homeland Security and the Marshals Service and said she was seeking a temporary restraining order to “immediately stop federal authorities from unlawfully detaining Oregonians,” the Associated Press reported.
Trump responded to the backlash on Sunday, tweeting that the administration was “trying to help Portland” by seeking to protect “federal property” and people.
“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” Trump wrote. “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”
—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2020
In the tweet, Trump echoed a statement from Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf issued July 16 that claimed the federal deployment was a response to the city that was “under siege” by “a violent mob while local political leaders refuse to restore order to protect their city.”
The statement details violent clashes between demonstrators and authorities that occurred between May 29 and July 15, referring to “violent anarchists” 72 times, Insider’s Charles Davis reported.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler pushed back against Trump’s explanation on Sunday, NBC News reported, saying that the additional authorities were “escalating an already dangerous situation.”
“This could happen in your city,” Wheeler said. “What we’re seeing is a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government, by a Trump administration that’s falling in the polls. And this is a direct threat to our democracy.”