A senior White House official reportedly told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the Trump administration has started talks with Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s office about removing federal officers from Portland — but only if the state steps up its own enforcement efforts.
According to the AP, the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stressed that talks with the governor are in the early stages and no agreement currently exists.
Neither Brown nor Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) have confirmed the news publicly.
What’s the background?
The Trump administration deployed federal officers to Portland earlier this month in response to violent riots in the city that have now raged on for 62 consecutive days. That violence continued Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning as federal officers again used tear gas to disperse protesters.
Much of the violence has been centered on the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in the city, where federal officers and rioters have faced off for weeks with rioters using mortars, lasers, rocks, bottles, and more to attack law enforcement. Reports surfaced last week that at least three federal officers may have been permanently blinded after being attacked with high intensity lasers.
In recent days, rioters have also been tossing Molotov cocktails at federal officers guarding the courthouse. A readout from the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday stated: “Rioters continue to throw hard projectiles, commercial-grade, mortar-style fireworks, and Molotov cocktails over the fence in their unabated efforts to harm federal officers and destroy federal property.”
News of the alleged talks comes shortly after the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security had decided to send an additional 100 officers to Portland, according to internal emails obtained by the Washington Post.
Administration officials are also reportedly considering deployment of an additional 50 Customs and Border Protection officers to the city.
Democratic leaders have condemned the move to send federal officers to the city, arguing that their addition has only stoked more anger and chaos from protesters. Meanwhile, the Democratic leaders have also continued to refuse to acknowledge that two months of criminal violence is a problem.