The Trump's administration earlier this month sent federal tactical teams to intervene in Portland after weeks of protests against racism and police brutality saw windows broken and graffiti scrawled on the federal courthouse.
Police in Portland have cleared parks and nearby roads around the city's centre in anticipation of a phased pullout by federal forces who have inflamed anti-racism protests in the city.
The dramatic change in tone outside a federal courthouse that's become ground zero in clashes between demonstrators and federal agents came after the US government began drawing down its forces in the liberal city under a deal between Democratic Governor Kate Brown and the Trump administration.
As agents from US Customs and Border Protection, the US Marshals Service and Immigration and Customs Enforcement pulled back, troopers with the Oregon State Police took over.
There were no visible signs of any law enforcement presence outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, where a protest lasted into early Friday.
“Last night, the world was watching Portland. Here’s what they saw: Federal troops left downtown. Local officials protected free speech. And Oregonians spoke out for Black Lives Matter, racial justice, and police accountability through peaceful, non-violent protest,” Brown said in a tweet on Friday.
Last night, the world was watching Portland. Here's what they saw: Federal troops left downtown. Local officials protected free speech. And Oregonians spoke out for Black Lives Matter, racial justice, and police accountability through peaceful, non-violent protest. https://t.co/sfDTDeeQAv— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 31, 2020
Drastic measures to combat racism
Leaders in Oregon are pushing for a raft of measures that would address systemic racism in everything from policing to housing. Those proposals could be fast-tracked for consideration in a special legislative session later this summer.
The governor also announced the creation of a Racial Justice Council to advise her on criminal justice reform and police accountability, health equity, economic opportunity, housing and homelessness, and environmental justice.
Fed agents to stay until police 'cleanup'
US federal officers will stay in Portland until local law enforcement officials finish a "cleanup of anarchists and agitators," President Donald Trump said.
The president tweeted late on Friday: "Homeland Security is not leaving Portland until local police complete cleanup of Anarchists and Agitators!"
Homeland Security is not leaving Portland until local police complete cleanup of Anarchists and Agitators!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2020
City mayor Ted Wheeler said the deployment was part of the agreement for federal officers to leave.
But the timing was also questioned this week by acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who warned a full pull-out depended on the security situation "significantly" improving.
Hundreds were still on the streets of downtown Portland on Sunday morning, without any federal law enforcement in sight.
Trump's administration earlier this month sent federal tactical teams, many wearing combat-like gear, to intervene in the city after weeks of protests against racism and police brutality saw windows broken and graffiti scrawled on the federal courthouse and other buildings.
Protests have roiled Portland for more than two months following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
And while thousands have marched and rallied peacefully, Portland's federal courthouse became a target for some protesters. Smaller numbers of demonstrators tried to tear down a fence erected to protect it, lit fires at the courthouse entryway and hurled fireworks, flares and bricks at the agents holed up inside. Most nights, the agents responded by firing tear gas.
But their deployment inflamed the situation, especially following footage of protesters being snatched off the street by federal agents and put into unmarked cars.
As of Wednesday, the government had arrested 94 people and since the protests began, more than 400 arrests have been made by local police.