The Trump administration has initiated talks with Oregon’s governor’s office about withdrawing federal agents deployed to quell protests as Portland officials reveal the city is fining the government $500 every 15 minutes for erecting an unauthorized fence around its courthouse.
The White House would agree to draw down the presence of troops if the state stepped up its own enforcement, an anonymous senior White House official said to AP Tuesday.
The talks are with the office of Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and are in the early stages and there is still no agreement.
The news came as the city of Portland announced its own action against the deployment of troops by fining the federal government until it removes an unpermitted fence around the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse.
The Trump administration has initiated talks with Oregon Gov. Kate Brown’s office indicating it would begin to withdraw the presence of federal agents if the state steps up its own enforcement in light of chaotic protests, a senior White House official said Tuesday
Portland officials announced Tuesday the city is fining the federal government $500 every 15 minutes for erecting an unauthorized fence surround the federal court house and the Justice Center in downtown Portland
Protesters attempted to push over the fence set up by federal agents above on Friday
A fire burns behind a fence as protesters gather at the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse on Monday evening. Protests have only worsened with the deployment of federal agents to Portland
The talks between the White House and Oregon come a day after the U.S. Marshals Service and Department of Homeland Security were weighing whether to send in more agents.
The marshals were taking steps to identify up to 100 additional personnel who could go in case they were needed to relieve or supplement the deputy marshals who work in Oregon, spokesman Drew Wade said.
The tension between Portland and federal troops deployed by President Donald Trump intensified on Tuesday, with Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly announcing fines on the fence that was set up without permission.
Eudaly said the government hasn’t responded to a cease and desist demand on behalf of the city sent last week and said the bill against the federal government is now $192,000 ‘and counting’ as of Monday night.
‘We intend to collect,’ she said.
‘Typically, we would send a maintenance crew or contractor to remove such an obstruction, but I will not send workers into harm’s way,’ she said.
Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly announced Tuesday that the city of Portland is assessing a maximum fine of $500 for every 15 minutes that the unauthorized fence set up by federal agents remains standing
‘Yes, I am afraid to direct workers to do their job and enforce our laws against the federal government—I hope that gives everyone reading this pause,’ she added.
According to the transportation bureau’s rules, which Eudaly oversees, it can assess a maximum $500 fine for obstructing the public right of way without a permit and levy a charge every 15 minutes, hourly, daily, weekly or monthly, according to Oregon Live.
The fence has become the heart of evening protests, which have broken out in the city for months following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Protesters have hit the streets demanding an end to racial injustice and police brutality.
The demonstrations have escalated into violence with protesters throwing rocks, Molotov cocktails, fireworks and laser pointers at the federal courthouse.
Federal agents have responded with tear gas, less-lethal ammunition and arrests.
Despite the clashes between agents and civilians, Trump has touted their deployment as a success.
‘We, as you know, have done an excellent job of watching over Portland and watching our courthouse where they wanted to burn it down, they’re anarchists, nothing short of anarchist agitators,’ Trump said Tuesday.
‘And we have protected it very powerfully. And if we didn’t go there, I will tell you, you wouldn’t have a courthouse. You’d have a billion-dollar burned-out building.’
Federal law enforcement officials pictured aiming at protesters standing outside a fence they set up around the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse in Portland on Friday
Demonstrators hold signs during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Monday in Portland, Oregon
Members of the ‘Wall of Moms’ protest group lock arms as they are tear-gassed by federal officers during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Portland courthouse on Monday
A demonstrator holds a sign in front of a fire during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Tuesday in Portland
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has also defended the aggressive federal response to Congress, saying ‘violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests’ sparked by Floyd´s death.
On Monday the feud between troops and city officials only inflamed when the Trump administration announced they’ll send in additional federal agents to the city, despite demands from elected representatives and lawsuits against the deployment.
Now Oregon state leaders are advocating for a ban on tear gas, limits on munitions and legislation to require officers display their names and ID numbers in the upcoming special session in the State Legislature.
‘Our federal delegation has pushed for DOJ and DHS Inspectors General to investigate Trump’s lawless actions in Portland—they are also working to defund this action in Congress,’ she said.
‘I know how challenging this is for Portlanders. I am committed to doing everything in my power to end this federal occupation and move forward with our community’s reckoning with racial injustice and our efforts to transform our approach to policing and public safety,’ Eudaly added.
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty have called for a ‘cease-fire’ in the protests.
‘As of yesterday, the federal government owes us $192,000 and counting. We intend to collect,’ Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly tweeted Tuesday
The American Civil Liberties Union in Oregon filed a motion alleging that the militarized U.S. agents are attacking journalists and legal observers with riot-control munitions, despite a federal court ordering them to stop this week.
Last week, the U.S. District Court in Portland – located in the same federal court building that’s been the focus of protests – temporarily blocked federal officers from targeting journalists and legal observers at the protests.
The ACLU asked the court to sanction and hold in contempt federal agents for violating the temporary restraining order.
It also asked the court to order Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli to personally appear and show why they should not be sanctioned for contempt.
The organization cited numerous instances in which agents have violated the order by firing impact munitions and using pepper spray against people clearly marked as journalists or legal observers.
One journalist, Jonathan Levinson of Oregon Public Broadcasting, said in a statement to the court that while he was trying to take a photograph Friday, he saw a federal agent raise his weapon, aim it at him and fire several rounds.
‘My camera and lens were splattered with paint,’ Levinson said. ‘Based on my position and the position of people around me, there is almost no chance the agent was aiming at anyone other than me.’
Trump had also sent troops to Seattle on ‘standby’ last week to protect federal buildings amid civil unrest.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday that she had received confirmation that agents had left her city.