Federal agents fire tear gas to clear Portland protesters
PORTLAND, Ore. — Thousands of protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Portland into the early hours Saturday, shooting fireworks at the building as plumes of tear gas dispensed by U.S. agents lingered above.
The demonstration carried on until federal officers entered the crowd around 2:30 a.m. and marched in a line down the street, clearing remaining protesters with tear gas at close range. They also extinguished a large fire in the street outside the courthouse.
Portland has been roiled by nightly protests for two months following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. President Trump said he sent federal agents to Oregon’s largest city to halt the unrest but state and local officials say they are making the situation worse.
The clashes in Portland have further inflamed the nation’s political tensions and triggered a crisis over the limits of federal power as Trump moves to send U.S. officers to other Democraticled cities he says are violent.
Late Friday a federal judge denied a request by Oregon’s attorney general to restrict the actions of federal police.
The Federal Protective Service had declared the gathering in Portland that began Friday evening as “an unlawful assembly” and said officers were injured.
As the crowd dispersed, someone was found stabbed nearby, Portland police said. The person was taken to a hospital and a suspect was taken into custody.
Earlier Friday night, the protest had drawn various organized groups, including Healthcare Workers Protest, Teachers against Tyrants, Lawyers for Black Lives and the “Wall of Moms.” As the crowd grew — authorities estimate there were 3,000 present at the peak of the protest — people were heard chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “Feds go home” to the sound of drums.
Later, protesters shook a fence surrounding the courthouse, shot fireworks towards the building and threw bottles. Federal agents responded with tear gas and flash bangs.
Homeland Security acting Secretary Chad Wolf denied that federal agents were inflaming the situation in Portland. Trump has described the demonstrators as “anarchists and agitators.“