Fed officers to withdraw from downtown Portland, governor says

PORTLAND — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday said that the federal government has agreed to a “phased withdrawal of federal officers” that have been deployed at the federal Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland amid nightly protests.

Brown said that the Oregon State Police will provide protection and security for the exterior of the courthouse with the Federal Protective Service. Beginning Thursday “all Customs and Border Protection and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers will leave downtown Portland, and shortly thereafter will be going home.”

The agreement was confirmed Wednesday by acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who said that a “joint plan” was reached over the past 24 hours with Brown.

Brown said “a limited contingent of federal officials, who act as building security year-round, will remain and will stay focused on the interior of the U.S. Courthouse.”

Wolf said in a statement: “The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked.”

The federal response has received harsh criticism for tactics that have included tremendous amounts of tear gas, firing of less-than-lethal rounds that have caused injuries to protesters, and beatings with batons.

Brown, in a Wednesday statement, said that she had “grown increasingly concerned” with the nightly confrontations between federal officers and protesters.

“We need to recognize that the protests in Portland are not solely about the federal presence,” Brown said. “They started before federal agents descended on our city and they will likely continue after they leave.”

Brown accused the federal officers of acting as “an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community.”

Wolf, in his statement, praised the federal law-enforcement efforts.

“This plan is possible due to the valiant efforts of the DHS law enforcement officers protecting federal property in Portland from violent activity for the past two months.”

He said President Donald Trump will partner with state and local law enforcement but warned that the Trump administration will continue to “fulfill its solemn obligation to uphold federal law across the country.”