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July 17, 2020, 1:19 p.m. EDT

Federal officers fire nonlethal rounds and deploy tear gas to break up Portland protest

Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf calls demonstrators ‘violent anarchists’ and blames state and city authorities for not putting an end to the protests

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By Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters in Oregon, hours after the head of the Department of Homeland Security visited Portland and called the demonstrators “violent anarchists.”

Video showed many protesters leaving the area near the federal courthouse late Thursday as smoke filled the air. Protests have taken place for nearly two months in Portland, since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

During a visit to Portland earlier Thursday, Homeland Security acting secretary Chad Wolf said state and city authorities are to blame for not putting an end to the protests, angering local officials.


Associated Press
Homeland Security Department’s Chad Wolf speaks at an October meeting of the President's Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local officials have said they didn’t ask for help from federal law enforcement and have asked them to leave, while Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, took to Twitter /zigman2/quotes/203180645/composite TWTR -0.99%  to decry the federal interventions:

A few hundred people had gathered near the federal courthouse Thursday night, news outlets reported. Police told protesters to leave after announcing they heard some chanting about burning down the building, according to the Oregonian.

A short time later, federal officers fired rounds and deployed tear gas to break up the crowd. Some protesters remained in the area early Friday and were detained, but it was unclear whether any arrests were made, the newspaper reported.

Homeland Security’s acting deputy secretary, Ken Cuccinelli, said Friday morning on “Fox & Friends” that the federal government has a responsibility to protect buildings such as the courthouse.

“What we’ve seen around the country is where responsible policing is advanced, violence recedes,” Cuccinelli said. “And Portland hasn’t gotten that memo. Nor have a lot of other cities. And the president is determined to do what we can, within our jurisdiction, to help restore peace to these beleaguered cities.”

Click to Play

Inside Seattle’s ‘Autonomous Zone’

Following violent clashes with Seattle police, Black Lives Matter protesters have occupied a police-free zone in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood while they negotiate with local officials. WSJ’s Jim Carlton reports on the mood there and how protesters would like to move forward. Photo: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

President Donald Trump recently sent the federal officers to the city. Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks, particularly after an officer with the U.S. Marshals Service fired a less-lethal round at a protester’s head on July 11, critically injuring him.

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