Portland City Council bans local police from working with federal law enforcement

Portland City Council bans local police from working with federal law enforcement
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The Portland City Council has reportedly approved a measure that bars the city's police department from communicating with federal agents deployed to the region by the Trump administration. 

The measure, which was passed on Wednesday, orders all members of the Portland Police Department to stop giving or receiving "operational support" from officers representing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Marshal Service, Federal Protective Service and Customs and Border Protection, according to local news reports. Under the resolution, police are also banned from overseeing demonstrations alongside federal officers. 

The measure comes as Portland remains gripped by protests that launched in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Tensions in the city have escalated in recent weeks following the Trump administration's deployment of federal officers. 

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State and local officials, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D), are calling for the federal agents to leave their city, though Trump and other top administration officials have defended their presence. 

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who crafted the resolution, said in a statement that the Trump administration is violating Portland residents' constitutional rights while also attempting to use the city "as a proving ground for fascism."

"This resolution serves as a statement of our opposition to their presence in our city, direction to our police bureau, a template for policies that other cities can advance, and a national call to action," she said. 

Eudaly also introduced resolution, which was later approved, affirming the rights of members of the media and legal observers documenting the demonstrations in the city. She said that the measure was introduced in response to the "violence perpetuated" against reporters and others amid the unrest. 

A federal judge earlier this month also issued an order exempting credentialed media members and legal observers from threat of arrest after police declare an "unlawful assembly," according to The Oregonian. The newspaper noted that the measure would remain in effect until the judge's order expires. 

Wheeler told Oregon Public Broadcasting that he would ask Police Chief Chuck Lovell to release an order that showed how the department would follow the resolution. Officers could be at risk of "discipline" if they do not adhere to the measure's stipulations. 

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It is unclear what level of communication federal officers have had with Portland police. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty alleged that the police and Wheeler "welcomed their involvement," OPB noted.

DHS did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill. 

The resolutions were passed just hours before federal officers deployed tear gas on protesters who gathered outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Wheeler, who had joined protesters standing in front of a fence located near the facility, was one of dozens of people targeted. 

"This is not a de-escalation strategy. This is flat-out urban warfare," Wheeler said after the gas was unleashed. "And it's being wrought on the people of this country by the president of the United States and it's got to stop." 

The Portland Police said that federal agents dispersed crowds outside the courthouse after people began throwing flammables and "other incendiaries" at the courthouse. They did not engage with demonstrators outside the courthouse or use CS gas, they said. 

Federal agents were dispatched to Portland earlier this month after Trump vowed to protect federal property and monuments following weeks of unrest throughout the country. He signaled that he would deploy federal officers to other major U.S. cities in the coming days, prompting a rebuke from a group of mayors who say their presence is unwanted. 

Trump said Wednesday that a "surge of federal law enforcement" would be deployed to communities in the U.S., claiming he had "no choice."