US attorney: Agents will stay in Portland as long as attacks on federal property, personnel last

Billy Williams, the U.S. attorney for the district of Oregon, on Monday signaled that federal officers stationed in Portland would not be removed as long as damages and threats to federal property, namely the city's federal courthouse, continue.

“It is not a solution to tell federal officers to leave when there continues to be attacks on federal property and personnel. We are not leaving the building unprotected to be destroyed by people intent on doing so,” Williams said via teleconference, The Associated Press reports.

Williams comments came after another night of conflict in the city between protesters and federal agents. Like nights before, agents tear gassed the crowd, while protesters set off fireworks in the vicinity of the courthouse.

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Black Lives Matter protests have dominated downtown Portland since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police at the end of May. The majority of the protests have originated around the Hatfield Federal Courthouse, resulting in damage to the building.

The damage prompted acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf to deploy DHS agents to the city in late June to help protect the courthouse and other federal buildings in Portland's downtown.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers have voiced their frustration with the federal presence in Portland, including Ted Wheeler, the city's mayor, and Oregon Gov. Kate BrownKate BrownBusinesses and states launch own relief funds as congressional talks stall COVID-19 changed learning, but obstructionist politics of education remain Cuccinelli says DHS to change camouflage uniforms of federal agents used in Portland MORE. On Monday, the two requested to meet with Wolf with the intent of brokering a “cease-fire and removal of heightened federal forces from Portland.”

Wheeler and Brown have previously said that the federal officers are not welcome in Portland.

The conduct of the federal officers has also been heavily criticized after reports surfaced that agents clad in unidentifiable military fatigues picked up and detained protestors in unmarked vans.