The controversial deployment of federal police officers in the US city of Portland is ended. Officials would be phased out starting Thursday, West Coast Oregon governor Kate Brown said on Wednesday. The government of President Donald Trump agreed to the gradual withdrawal of the police officers, who acted like an “occupying power”.
In return, the regional police will step up their efforts to protect a Portland courthouse. Homeland Security Minister Chad Wolf confirmed an agreement with the governor of the Democratic Party. However, he said that federal police officers dispatched to Portland would remain in the city until the security of the federal courthouse and other federal buildings was guaranteed.
Federal police officers had repeatedly engaged in violent clashes with demonstrators in the city in recent weeks. The courthouse in Portland was one of the central demonstration sites.
The officers were deployed without the consent of the local – and democratically controlled – authorities. Critics accused them of being aggressive against mostly peaceful demonstrators.
The federal police officers repeatedly used tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters. Among other things, recordings provoked outrage, showing how police officers in camouflage clothing arrested protesters and took them to unmarked vehicles. The local authorities repeatedly requested that officials be withdrawn.
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The Democrats saw the campaign as a major campaign show for Donald Trump, who would abuse security for his campaign.
The US government sends more federal officials to other cities
The U.S. government has also announced plans to deploy federal security forces to other cities in the country. The reason given is generally the fight against increasing violent crime.
The Department of Justice said Wednesday that additional forces would be deployed to Detroit, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Among other things, they belonged to the federal police FBI and drug investigation (DEA) and were supposed to intensify the deployment of security forces on site.
“The most basic government responsibility is to ensure the security of our citizens,” said Justice Secretary William Barr. Since the beginning of July, the Department of Justice has been strengthening security agencies in Kansas City, Chicago and Albuquerque with officials as part of the “Operation Legend” mission named after a victim.
The Portland demonstrations originated in the protests following the death of African American George Floyd in a brutal police operation in Minneapolis in late May. Floyd’s death sparked nationwide demonstrations against racism and police violence against blacks. On the fringes of the mostly peaceful protests there were repeated riots. (AFP, dpa)