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Federal Troops to Stay in Portland Until Local Law Enforcement Can Handle Protests, DHS Chief Says

© REUTERS / CAITLIN OCHSFederal law enforcement officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against racial inequality and police violence in Portland, Oregon, 25 July 2020.
Federal law enforcement officers detain a demonstrator during a protest against racial inequality and police violence in Portland, Oregon, 25 July 2020.  - Sputnik International
The US West Coast city of Portland, Oregon has faced over two months of protests, some of them degenerating into violent encounters with police, since the killing of an unarmed African American by police in Minneapolis in late May. On Thursday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced that federal forces were preparing to leave the city.

Federal law enforcement will stay put in Portland, Oregon until Washington can be assured that local authorities' efforts to handle the protests are working, acting US Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has said.

Speaking to Fox News on Friday, Wolf specified that "law enforcement officers that have been there over the past 60 days will remain there in Portland until we are assured that the plan has been put in place by the governor and Oregon State Police will be effective night after night."

For now, the official added, President Trump is still considering the possibility of sending National Guard units into the violence-stricken city.

Wolf's remarks come less than 24 hours after Governor Brown announced that federal troops were preparing to leave downtown Portland, and suggested that President Trump's "plan to 'dominate' the streets of American cities" had "failed."

Media reported Thursday that local authorities had reached an agreement with Washington on the troops' withdrawal.

The federal government initially deployed 114 troops to Portland to defend the federal courthouse against vandalism. This week, it was reported that 100 additional federal agents had been deployed, with Washington considering sending in 50 more. On Wednesday, President Trump warned via Twitter that if Portland's mayor and Governor Brown "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."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who was tear gassed as he joined protests outside the federal courthouse building last week, has joined Governor Brown in saying that the federal police presence in his city had only served to inflame tensions.

Portland and other cities across America have been overwhelmed by anti-racism and anti-police violence protests over the past two months following the May 25 police killing of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd by a white police officer. In some places, the protests have included violent confrontations with law enforcement, or degenerated into looting, arson and property destruction. It's estimated that that at least some 30 people have been killed in the violence so far, 25 of them by gunshot wound.

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