Oregon Gov. Says Federal Troops Will Leave Portland, While DHS Sec. Says They'll Remain

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said Wednesday some of the federal officers sent into Portland by the Department of Homeland Security to monitor protests in the city will be leaving on Thursday, but the Department of Homeland Security's acting Secretary, Chad Wolf, said federal agents will remain for the time being.

Brown said in a news release that the decision was made in coordination with Vice President Mike Pence and other officials with President Donald Trump's administration.

"These federal officers have acted as an occupying force, refused accountability, and brought violence and strife to our community," Brown said.

After my discussions with VP Pence and others, the federal government has agreed to withdraw federal officers from Portland. They have acted as an occupying force & brought violence. Starting tomorrow, all Customs and Border Protection & ICE officers will leave downtown Portland.

— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 29, 2020
Portland protests
Federal Police clash with protesters in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland, Oregon, as the city experiences another night of unrest on July 25. On Thursday, Governor Kate Brown announced that federal officers with ICE and the CBP would leave the city by Thursday. Spencer Platt/Getty

Brown said agents with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will leave the city Thursday, but officers with the Federal Protection Service will stay to assist local law enforcement.

"A limited contingent of federal officials, who act as building security year-round, will remain and will stay focused on the interior of the U.S. Courthouse," the governor said.

Shortly after Brown made the announcement, Wolf posted on Twitter that the DHS was "not removing any law enforcement while our facilities and law enforcement remain under attack."

As I told the Governor yesterday, federal law enforcement will remain in Portland until the violent activity toward our federal facilities ends. We are not removing any law enforcement while our facilities and law enforcement remain under attack.

— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) July 29, 2020

Wolf released a statement saying he was "in regular communication" with Brown over the last day to devise a plan for the federal troops to leave Portland. He said the duo's current strategy will "ensure all federal facilities remain protected and secure."

"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 said. "This has been our mission and objective since the violent, criminal activity began."

Wolf said that the DHS will monitor the protests in Portland to determine how many federal troops the department believes the city needs moving forward. Though Wolf's statement referenced Federal Protective Service (FPS) officers whom he said would remain in the city, he did not mention the CBP or ICE agents.

Newsweek reached out to the DHS for clarification on which federal troops will remain in Portland for the time being but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Brown told Newsweek the state has a "clear agreement" with the federal government about the CBP and ICE agents' removal.

"The federal government has agreed to a phased withdrawal of federal officers from Portland, beginning Thursday," Brown said. "We have a clear agreement that all Customs and Border Protection and ICE officers will leave downtown Portland on Thursday. Shortly thereafter, they will go home. A limited contingent of federal officials—who provide security year-round to the federal courthouse—will remain and stay focused on its interior. Oregon State Police troopers will be downtown to protect free speech and keep the peace."

Portland is one of many cities in the U.S. in which protests turned violent in recent weeks. The protests began in late May after the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25. As word of other individuals who died after interactions with law enforcement spread, protesters in cities across the U.S. and around the world demonstrated to demand an end to violence against Black Americans.

The protests intensified in Portland earlier this month when demonstrators began reporting that unidentified federal agents were detaining people on the streets. The state's attorney general said on July 17 that she filed a lawsuit against the DHS, the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. CPB and the FPS, alleging the federal officers "engaged in unlawful law enforcement" that violated residents' civil rights.

The debate over federal officers' presence in Portland continued in the two weeks since as President Donald Trump voiced support for the federal troops' actions and Oregon state and local leaders admonished the decision to keep them there.

As the situation developed on Wednesday, Trump addressed the debate on Twitter, saying "there would be no Portland" if federal troops hadn't arrived earlier in July to assist local law enforcement.

"If the Mayor and Governor do not stop the Crime and Violence from the Anarchists and Agitators immediately, the Federal Government will go in and do the job that local law enforcement was supposed to do," Trump said in a series of tweets.

This story has been updated with background, additional information and a statement from Oregon Governor Kate Brown.