PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The mayors of Portland, Oregon and five other major U.S. cities appealed to Congress on Monday to make it illegal for the federal government to deploy militarized agents in cities they don’t want.
“The blatant use of this federal power by cities on the objections of local authorities by this government should never happen,” said the mayors of Portland; Seattle; Chicago; Kansas city; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Washington wrote to the leaders of the United States House and the Senate.
Early Tuesday’s video showed law enforcement officers filling a street with gas to expel protesters. Several loud bangs were heard.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called late for a meeting with Acting Homeland Security Minister Chad Wolf to discuss a ceasefire and the removal of elevated federal forces from Portland.
Earlier in the day, a US official said that militarized officers would remain in Portland until the attacks on a federal courthouse stop – and that more officers will be on the way soon.
“It is not a solution to tell federal officers to leave if there are still attacks on federal property and personnel,” said American attorney Billy Williams. “We don’t leave the building unprotected to be destroyed by people who intend to.”
Local and state officials said federal officers are undesirable.
The city has protested overnight for two months since the May murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police. President Donald Trump said he sent federal agents to Portland to stem the turmoil, but the state and local authorities said they were making the situation worse.
Trump’s deployment of federal officers over the weekend of July 4 fueled the Black Lives Matter movement. The number of nighttime demonstrators had fallen to perhaps less than 100 just before deployment and has now grown to thousands.
Early Monday, U.S. agents repeatedly shot tear gas, pops, and peppercorns at protesters outside of Portland’s federal courthouse. Some protesters had climbed over the fence around the courthouse, others fired fireworks, struck the fence, and projected lights onto the building.
Trump said on Twitter that federal property in Portland “wouldn’t last a day” without the presence of federal agents.
The majority of people who participated in the daily demonstrations were peaceful. However, some have pelted officers with objects and attempted to tear down fences that protected the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in the United States.
Williams, whose office is in the courthouse, called on peaceful protesters, community and business leaders, and believers not to allow violence in their presence and to leave the center before the violence begins. He said federal agents made 83 arrests.
Demonstrations in support of racial justice and police reform in other cities in the United States were marred by violence over the weekend. Protesters set fire to a courthouse in Oakland, California; vehicles were set on fire in Richmond, Virginia; an armed demonstrator was shot and killed in Austin, Texas; and two people were shot and injured in Aurora, Colorado after a car drove through a protest.
The US Marshals Service has deployed about 100 people to send them to hotspots, either to strengthen the armed forces or fire officers who have been working for weeks, agency spokesman Drew Wade said.
Kris Cline, chief deputy director of the Federal Protective Service, said an incident commander in Portland and teams from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice discuss what troops are needed every night.
Cline declined to talk about the number of officers currently present or more to come.
Some protesters accuse Wheeler of hypocrisy for speaking out against the federal presence because Portland police under his control used tear gas and other riot control weapons on protesters, including peaceful ones.
Cline said Portland police should take over the task of dispersing protesters from the courthouse from federal officers.
“If the Portland Police Department could do what they normally do, they could fix this for this outage and let our agents in and not be visible,” said Cline.
He said relations between federal officers, some of whom live in Portland, and city police were good.
Portland police responded on Sunday evening to a shooting in a park near the site of the protests. Two people were detained and later released, police said. The person who was shot went to hospital in a private vehicle and was treated for a non-life-threatening wound.
Also late on Sunday, police said someone pointed to a bag in the same park, where officers found loaded gun magazines and Molotov cocktails. The shooting was unrelated to the items, police said.