Washington, July 20 (IANS) The Mayor of Portland in the US state of Oregon has renewed his call asking federal troops to leave, accusing the latter of escalating tension in the city which has witnessed continued protests against police brutality.
There are “dozens if not hundreds of federal troops” in the city, and “their presence here is actually leading to more violence and more vandalism”, Xinhua news agency quoted Mayor Ted Wheeler as saying in a CNN interview on Sunday.
“They’re not wanted here. We haven’t asked them here. In fact, we want them to leave,” he added.
The death of George Floyd in May under police custody has sparked nationwide protests and Portland has witnessed continued nightly demonstrations since against police brutality and systemic racism in the city.
In June, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to protect monuments and statues from protests as well as combat criminal activities.
In response, the Department of Homeland Security sent federal law enforcement officers to Portland to help the city restore order.
“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
“We must protect Federal property, and our people. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal.”
However, the role played by the federal troops stationed in the city was questioned and criticized by the Mayor.
“Based on recent actions by federal law enforcement officers, I am not comfortable having them in our space,” Wheeler tweeted.
It’s not the first time that the mayor has asked the federal troops to leave the city.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” he said at a press conference on Friday.
Meanwhile on Saturday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit against the federal government, accusing it of “unlawfully detaining” protesters and 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 Portland.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has also accused federal agents of a “blatant abuse of power”.