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Federal forces begin withdrawing from Portland

FEDERAL security forces in the United States began withdrawing some of its officers from Portland, Oregon, today following weeks of clashes with Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters.

Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said on Wednesday night that the pullout was conditional on local police protecting federal buildings, but set no timeline.

Mr Wolf said that he and Oregon governor Kate Brown had “agreed to a joint plan to end the violent activity in Portland directed at federal properties and law enforcement officers.”

Ms Brown said the agents have ”acted as an occupying force and brought violence.”

She previously blasted the interference as an election-year stunt by President Donald Trump.

The security forces, which include customs and border protection officers as well as deportation officers from ICE, were sent to the city on July 4 following weeks of mainly peaceful protest against racism and police brutality after the murder of George Floyd. 

Their deployment only increased violent scenes, with footage showing demonstrators being dragged off the streets and into unmarked cars. 

Local news reports said that medics, journalists and legal observers have also been hurt by rubber bullets and tear gas pellets fired by the federal officers.

A protester was critically injured July 11 and required facial reconstructive surgery after a federal agent fired a non-lethal round that struck him in the head. 

Hours after the announcement, hundreds of protesters gathered in the city centre.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “The federal occupation of our community has brought a new kind of fear to our streets.”

In response to the announcement, the president claimed that if the “brilliant” forces had not entered the city a week ago, “there would be no Portland.”

“It would be burned and beaten to the ground,” he tweeted. 

“If the mayor and governor 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!”

An Associated Press analysis of more than 200 arrests yesterday found that even those accused of breaking the law during the nightly rallies “don’t neatly fit into” Mr Trump’s depiction of protesters as “anarchists and agitators.”

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