Police Declare Portland Protest A Riot, Mayor Ted Wheeler Tear Gassed By Federal Agents

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TOPLINE

A riot was declared outside Portland’s Justice Centre early on Thursday, with protesters ordered to clear the area immediately or face arrest and riot “control agents” including tear gas and “impact weapons,” as a federal crackdown on anti-racism protesters in the city intensifies.

KEY FACTS

Portland Police tweeted in the early hours: “A riot has been declared outside the Justice Center. Disperse to the north and/or west. Disperse immediately.”

The department added: “Failure to adhere to this order may subject you to arrest or citation, or riot control agents, including, but not limited to, tear gas and/or impact weapons.”

The area covering SW 1st Ave to SW Broadway from SW Columbia to SW Harvey Milk was shut down, the department said, with protesters told again to “leave the area now.”

It comes after a group of mothers protesting federal agents in the city took to the streets for a fourth night, to voice their opposition to the Trump Administration’s move to deploy federal agents to the city to intervene in the anti-racism protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has called for federal agents to leave the city, was hit with tear gas after meeting with protesters outside the federal courthouse.

Wheeler told New York Times correspondent Mike Baker: “I’m not going to lie, it stings, it’s hard to breathe…and I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response.”

Crucial quote

Wheeler added: “It’s an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers…it’s made people more angry.

“This is not a de-escalation strategy. This is flat-out urban warfare, and it’s been brought on this country by the president of the united states, and it’s got to stop now.”

Key background

Portland’s streets have heaved with protests following the death of unarmed Black man George Floyd in police custody in May. The “Wall of Moms” demonstration, which has been duplicated across other major U.S. cities, started after federal agents deployed by President Trump began detaining anti-racism demonstrators in unmarked cars earlier this month. Local officials, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, have blasted Trump’s use of federal agents, who have clashed with protesters, as ” abhorrent.” But on Wednesday, Trump moved to expand the measure to cities including Chicago and Albuquerque as part of “Operation Legend” to crack down on what he says is violent crime, and attacks on monuments. The measure is viewed by critics as a way for Trump to assert his tough on crime stance ahead of the November election.

Further reading

Trump Announces Federal Law Enforcement Surge In Cities With High Crime Rates (Forbes)

Portland Moms Return To Protect Protesters Chanting ‘Hands Up, Please Don’t Shoot Me’ (Forbes)

I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night