Portland, Oregon officials said the federal government owed the city nearly $ 200,000 for the federal fence of the courthouse, which became the scene of night protests.
The city’s transportation bureau has issued an order to stop and evade the fence that blocks downtown streets and estimates the federal government $ 500 for every 15 minutes it stays in place, Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudali said Tuesday.
“As of yesterday, the federal government owed us $ 192,000 and counted,” Evdali said. “We intend to collect.”;
“Usually we send a maintenance crew or a contractor to remove such an obstacle, but I do not send workers to the detriment,” she added.
The Department of Homeland Security, which deployed federal agents in the city earlier this month to defend Mark O. Hatfield, a U.S. court in protest of George Floyd’s death in custody did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Evdali called the agents an “occupying force.”
The move comes on the same day as Attorney General William Barr defended the Trump administration’s decision to send agents. Recent protests against racial injustice and police violence following Floyd’s assassination on May 25 have been “kidnapped” by “violent rebels and anarchists,” Barr said.
The administration is “trying to protect federal functions and federal buildings,” he said.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, meanwhile, said agents had “sharply” increased tensions between officials and protesters, “leading to more violence and more vandalism.”
Night protests in the city usually began peacefully, with the participation of groups such as “Mother’s Wall” and “PDXDadPod”, which march and chant “Black Living Matter” and “Fedevie go home.” Later at night, small groups of people wearing black and umbrellas smashed fireworks near the courthouse and started fires.
Protesters accused the agents of deploying pepper spray and tear gas and destroying food and medicine. Peaceful protesters described being taken away by unidentified agents and did not tell protesters why they were being detained.
Meanwhile, civil rights activists are begging for a “focus back” on racial injustice, according to the local NAACP chief.
“I want us to remember why we are here,” one defender said last week. “What is happening in the city center is not a black issue. It’s a battle between two white supremacists: the Trump administration and the local city of Portland. “