DHS: Federal agents will stay in Portland to protect courthouse, despite what mayor is saying

Agents will stay until assured that 'the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure.'

Updated: July 29, 2020 - 1:49pm

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The acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday said federal law enforcement will remain in Portland, Oregon for the time being, countering earlier claims from the state's governor appearing to suggest federal agents would be leaving the city in short order. 

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown on Wednesday said on Twitter that, following discussions with federal authorities, Washington had "agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland," and that, beginning Thursday, "all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland."

Brown in that tweet referred to federal agents as "an occupying force" that had "brought violence" to the city. 

Yet in a Wednesday statement on the Department of Homeland Security's website, Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said that federal officers "will continue their mission" in the city for an indeterminate amount of time.

"The Department will continue to maintain our current, augmented federal law enforcement personnel in Portland until we are assured that the Hatfield Federal Courthouse and other federal properties will no longer be attacked and that the seat of justice in Portland will remain secure," Wolf wrote. "This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began."

"The Department will continue to re-evaluate our security posture in Portland," he continued, "and should circumstances on the ground significantly improve due to the influx of state and local law enforcement, we anticipate the ability to change our force posture, as we do everyday at our other 9,000 federal properties we protect across the country."

Portland has been the scene of prolonged unrest and violence for several weeks, as protesters—including those affiliated with both antifa and the Black Lives Matter movement—have at times participated in rioting and property destruction in the northwestern U.S. city.

Protesters at one point attempted to set fire to the city's federal courthouse; activists have been seen throwing projectiles at law enforcement as well.  

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