Portland protesters barricaded federal officers inside a courthouse — and tried to set the building on fire — as the two groups clashed again Tuesday night into Wednesday.
As hundreds chanted “Black lives matter” and “Feds go home,” a team of protesters propped several wood beams and sand bags against a door to the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, according to tweets from Clypian, an online news outlet run by South Salem High School students.
Videos posted by the Clypian throughout the night show protesters yanking off plywood covering another entrance and the feds launching tear gas and pepper bombs at the crowds. At one point, someone tosses a firework at the officers, which explodes at their feet.
Another video showed the plywood facade of the courthouse — which has been routinely attacked as the feds stand guard inside — on fire, prompting a stream of officers to pour out.
Protests have been raging in Portland for more than 50 days — but tensions between demonstrators and police have escalated in recent days following President Trump’s deployment of federal officers to the city.
A total of 114 federal officers were sent to the West Coast city, including from the Federal Protective Service, Immigration Customs Enforcement, US Customs and Border Protection and the US Marshals Service, USA Today reported, citing documents filed on Tuesday.
Many officers are bearing Department of Homeland Security patches but no name tags.
Some say the presence of federal agents have galvanized the protests, which have only grown in recent days compared to previous weeks.
“People are legit afraid for their rights,” Najee Gow, a 22-year-old nurse, told USA Today. “They are coming for our rights. They are exercising martial law.”
The deployment of the officers has drawn criticism from public officials, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who blamed the feds for exacerbating the situation.
“What’s happening here is we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city and what they’re doing is they are sharply escalating the situation,” Wheeler said Sunday. “Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.”
He was joined by mayors from various cities — Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, Tucson, Sacramento, Phoenix and Kansas City, Missouri — in penning a letter Monday to Attorney General William Barr and Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, calling the deployment an “abuse of power,” CNN reported.
The mayors are calling for the troops to be withdrawn from cities where they’re currently in place and to stop plans to send them to other cities, saying the officers have used “significant force” in Portland, including snatching protesters off the streets.
Trump, meanwhile, has lauded the feds in Portland for doing “a fantastic job.” He’s floated the idea of more deployments to other cities, like Chicago and New York.
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