Federal agents tear-gassed protesters again and made arrests as several hundred people demonstrated in downtown Portland late Wednesday and early Thursday, hours after state leaders announced federal agents would soon leave the city, CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV reports.
It was the 62nd night in a row of protests there.
Governor Kate Brown said early Wednesday that all Customs and Border Protection & ICE agents would depart Portland and be replaced by Oregon State Police beginning Thursday. But acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said the agents would stay put “until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked.”
Federal agents issued their first warning of the night shortly before 11 p.m., cautioning people to leave the fence around the courthouse alone or face potential arrest. A few minutes later, they started deploying tear gas and crowd control munitions.
Some people could be seen climbing over the fence and climbing back out at about 11:30 p.m. Federal agents fired another round of tear gas and stun grenades but a large crowd remained crushed against the fence, undeterred.
A demonstrator waves a U.S. flags in front of federal agents after tear gas is deployed during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse early on July 30, 2020, in Portland, Oregon.
Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP
Federal officials declared an unlawful assembly at about 11:40 p.m. and asked “peaceful protesters” to leave the area.
At one point, some protesters holding American flags and veterans with signs met face-to-face in a silent standoff with federal agents.
Christine VanOsdol was one of the vets who refused to move as agents approached. She said she’s a U.S. Army Desert Storm veteran and doctor of occupational therapy.
“I’m out here to stand for the United States Constitution and for people’s right to free speech and to stand here and ask for better from our leaders,” she told KOIN. “This breaks my heart.”
Air Force veteran Jiri Rivers told KOIN seeing federal agents on the streets of Portland engaging with protesters, “fills him with rage.”
At about 12:30 a.m., officers held someone face-down on the ground and handcuffed the person before dragging him or her through a garage door on the back side of the courthouse building, KOIN says. Moments later, they arrested a second person just around the corner, taking them through a garage door on the building’s north side.
At around 1 a.m., a man from Seattle took at least two less lethal rounds to the legs, at least one of which became embedded in his shin, KOIN reports.
By 2 a.m. only 100 or so people remained in the area near the courthouse. People in the crowd occasionally hopped the fence or threw things over it, prompting additional volleys of pepper balls from officers.