Portland’s City Council said Tuesday it is fining the federal government $500 every 15 minutes until it removes a reinforced fence in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse that has become a central battleground in the nightly clashes between federal officers and Black Lives Matter protesters.
According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, the fence was placed in a bike lane without permits.
City attorneys fought back after the fence was erected last week, sending a cease-and-desist letter to the federal agency that oversees the federal courthouse, threatening fines and requesting the structure be “removed promptly.”
Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said on Tuesday that as the government has not responded to the city’s requests, she is levying the maximum fine under the transportation bureau’s rules.
“We intend to collect,” said Eudaly in a statement, who noted as of Monday, the federal government owed $192,000 in fines for the fence-“and counting.”
Eudaly said the city would typically send a maintenance crew or contractor to remove the obstruction, but she does not want to “send workers into harm’s way.”
The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This fence was constructed without permission or permits on public property, and it is both an abuse of public space and a threat to the traveling public,” Eudaly previously said.
The U.S. Attorney for Oregon’s office announced the fence’s arrival on July 18, explaining it was constructed to “de-escalate tensions between protesters and federal law enforcement officers, and to allow much-needed building repairs to begin.” According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, the federal government plans to rent the fence for three to six months, with an estimated taxpayer price tag of $208,400. The fence has divided protesters and federal officers-sent to the city to quell demonstrations in early July-engaging in increasingly violent nightly clashes over the past week. While some protesters attempt to climb the fence or set fires outside the courthouse, federal officers stationed inside deploy tear gas, less-than-lethal munition and flash bangs, resulting in serious injuries on both sides.
“On Portland’s streets: Anger, fear, and a fence that divides” (Associated Press)
“Portland federal courthouse fence could last until 2021, cost more than $200,000” (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
“Portland officials demand feds remove courthouse fence in bike lane” (The Oregonian)
I’m a British-born reporter covering breaking news for Forbes, with previous experience at CBS, CNN and Inc. I attended NYU where I studied Politics, Economics and