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Portland protests: Mayor demands federal troops leave city

The mayor of Portland in Oregon has renewed his call for federal troops to leave the US city, accusing them of abusive tactics against protesters.

“They are sharply escalating the situation,” Mayor Ted Wheeler told CNN on Sunday.

There have been nightly protests against police brutality in the city since the killing of African American George Floyd in Minneapolis in May.

The federal government has said it is trying to restore order in Portland.

Speaking to CNN on Sunday, Mayor Wheeler said there were “dozens if not hundreds of federal troops” in the city, adding: “Their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism.

“They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave,” he said.

His comments echoed those of Oregon Governor Kate Brown, who described the presence of federal troops in the city as “purely political theatre” from the Donald Trump administration.

Ms Brown told MSNBC that she had asked the federal government on Tuesday to remove the troops, saying: “You are escalating an already challenging situation.”

Portland on Friday. There have been nightly protests against police brutality

Their comments came after Oregon’s attorney general filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing it of unlawfully detaining protesters.

In the lawsuit, Ellen Rosenblum requested a restraining order to stop agents from the Department of Homeland Security, US Marshals Service, US Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protection Service from making any more arrests in the city.

“These tactics must stop,” Ms Rosenblum said in a statement.

The lawsuit said the actions of federal officers violated protesters’ ability to exercise their constitutional First Amendment right to assembly and, by seizing and detaining people without a warrant, also breached the Fourth and Fifth Amendment right to due process.

The troops, a new Department of Homeland Security unit made up of people from the US Marshals Service and Customs and Border Protection, have been deployed under an executive order protecting statues, signed by Mr Trump last month.

The executive order, which says anyone who damages a public statue must be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law”, allows troops to be deployed without the permission of the state.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Democrats in the House of Representatives called for watchdogs belonging to the departments of justice and homeland security to investigate whether the two bodies had “abused emergency authorities to justify the use of force” against protesters.

The letter, which was signed by the heads of three house committees, specifically mentioned the reports from Portland as well as the dispersal of Lafayette Square in Washington DC during protests in June.

“This is a matter of utmost urgency,” they wrote. “Citizens are concerned that the Administration has deployed a secret police force, not to investigate crimes, but to intimidate individuals it views as political adversaries, and that the use of these tactics will proliferate throughout the country.”

BBC

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