Portland police prepare for departure of controversial federal agents

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Portland police began on Thursday to evacuate the area around a city court to prepare for the withdrawal of federal agents dispatched by Donald Trump’s government and whose presence is controversial.

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Portland (Northwest) Police officers have asked all residents to leave downtown parks and streets lining federal court on pain of arrest before cordoning the perimeter, a AFP journalist.

Only about fifty demonstrators were present at midday, unlike the several thousand who have marched every night since the arrival in Portland of federal police.

“We will not let the police stop us”, shouted these demonstrators in particular.

“We want change, we want things to move,” Emily, 35-year-old artist told AFP, ensuring that the withdrawal of the much-maligned federal agents would not diminish the determination of those who have been demonstrating for weeks against racial discrimination and police brutality.

“They just replace the feds by the police,” said Emily, who expects the same clashes with the police as the previous nights.

Portland Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler said the evacuation of the courthouse area was part of the deal announced the day before between local officials and the government for the removal of federal agents.

The death of black forty-something George Floyd suffocated on May 25 in Minneapolis by a white policeman, sparked huge anti-racist protests across the United States. The mobilization was considerably weakened, but pockets of protest persisted, especially in Portland, clearly marked on the left.

The deployment by the government of federal agents, sometimes from customs or border police and sporting a whole military panoply, has had the effect of hardening the movement in this city with a long history of protest.

“Today, Federal troops are preparing to leave central Portland. We will protect free expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully, ”Oregon Democratic Governor Kate Brown said on Twitter, accusing President Donald Trump of mounting a“ political ”blow by sending them.

The agreement provides that the local police will ensure the maintenance of order outside the court, at the expense of a few federal agents whose usual mission is to secure the buildings themselves.

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