Portland Mayor Warns Trump: Keep Your Troops in Federal Buildings or 'Leave Our City'

Top lawmakers in Oregon warned President Donald Trump that federal troops should leave Portland amid reports that officers were arresting protesters who were nowhere near federal buildings.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told Trump directly on Friday to "keep your troops in your own buildings or have them leave our city," as video emerged that appeared to show unidentified federal officers handcuffing a protester and placing them in an unmarked vehicle.

Both of Oregon's U.S. senators and two of its House members wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr Friday demanding the agency immediately withdraw "these federal paramilitary forces from our state."

Agents with the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection and Marshals Service are in Portland to protect federal property.

Newsweek subscription offers >

But Oregon Governor Kate Brown told KPTV Friday that federal troops in Portland are only worsening protests over racial inequality and police brutality that have taken place for the past 50 nights.

Newsweek subscription offers >

"Let me be very, very clear, having federal troops on the streets of Portland does not solve the problem and in fact, it escalates the problem," Brown said. "I was very clear with [acting DHS] Secretary [Chad] Wolf about that fact. This is pure politics; this isn't about problem-solving."

Wheeler agreed, announcing Friday: "This is not the America we want. This is not the Portland we want. We're demanding that the president remove these additional troops that he sent to our city. It is not helping to contain or de-escalate the situation it's obviously having exactly the opposite impact."

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a statement Friday defending the presence of its officers in Portland who are tasked with protecting buildings under federal jurisdiction such as the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse. "Violent anarchists have organized events in Portland over the last several weeks with willful intent to damage and destroy federal property, as well as, injure federal officers and agents. These criminal actions will not be tolerated," the agency told CNN Friday.

U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams, Oregon's top federal prosecutor, requested an investigation into a video that depicts heavily militarized agents without identification badges arresting a protester in Portland. The video concludes with the handcuffed protester being led into an unmarked minivan.

Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley shared the video on Twitter Thursday, describing it as the actions of an "authoritarian government."

Newsweek reached out to the Portland mayor's office, the governor's office, and DHS offices in Washington for additional comment.

"Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters," Merkley tweeted Thursday. "These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end."

The American Civil Liberties Union announced Friday that federal agents appearing to violate the rights of protesters "should concern everyone in the United States." Jann Carson, interim executive director of the ACLU of Oregon, described such incidents to the Associated Press as "kidnapping."

Federal officers in Portland have charged at least 13 people with crimes tied to the protests in recent weeks, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported Thursday.

Wheeler said the White House has placed federal troops there purely as a political move in a presidential election year.

"This is part of the core media strategy out of Trump's White House: to use federal troops to bolster his sagging polling data," the mayor said during a Friday news conference. "And it is an absolute abuse of federal law enforcement officials."

portland oregon feds arresting protester
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told Trump directly on Friday to "keep your troops in your own buildings or have them leave our city" as video emerged which appeared to show unidentified federal officers handcuffing a protester and placing them in an unmarked vehicle. MASON TRINCA / Stringer/Getty Images
Portland Mayor Warns Trump: Keep Your Troops in Federal Buildings or 'Leave Our City' | News