PORTLAND, Ore.— The federal law enforcement agencies protecting the Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland took a more aggressive stance Wednesday night. Two warnings were given for the crowd to stop throwing projectiles and breaching the fencing before officers came out of the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and used less-than-lethal ordinance to try and disperse the crowd.
Federal officers also exited the courthouse much earlier than they did on Tuesday night in an attempt to clear the street of rioters. While they were successful in clearing the immediate intersections surrounding the courthouse, the crowd had split up and simply waited until the officers left.
It went on to become a sparring match between the two sides. The federal officers would retreat into the courthouse and come back out from a different exit to throw rioters off guard. At least three people were taken into custody by authorities.
While much of the initial crowd had dispersed after a few hours, many stayed behind to continue to throw projectiles at officers and the building. Officers pulled up in an unmarked minivan in an attempt to apprehend rioters who were fighting with officers in the courthouse. They were unsuccessful in making any arrests at that moment. They went back into the minivan and quickly drove away.
The more aggressive crackdown from federal authorities came after it was announced the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had reached an agreement with the state of Oregon: a phased withdrawal of the extra federal officers and Oregon State Police will help take over the security of the courthouse.
"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 and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure. This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began," Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) claimed all of the federal officers would be leaving the city starting on Thursday, which Wolf denied.
Our local Oregon State Police officers will be downtown to protect Oregonians' right to free speech and keep the peace. Let's center the Black Lives Matter movement's demands for racial justice and police accountability. It's time for bold action to reform police practices.— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 29, 2020
.@DHSgov will not back down from our legal duty to protect federal law enforcement officers and federal properties in the face of violent criminal behavior.— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 29, 2020
It remains to be seen if the presence of Oregon State Police instead of federal agents will calm down the rioters and agitators as one of their chants is, "No good cops in a racist system!"