A crowd of more than 2,000 protesters in Portland, Oregon clashed with federal agents near a federal courthouse early Tuesday morning.
According to NBC News , the standoff between federal agents and protesters hit a fever pitch as protesters tried to take down a wooden barricade meant to protect the courthouse while federal agents shot tear gas to disperse the crowd.
The Customs and Border Protection agency confirmed three of its specially trained units have deployed officers to Portland, a CBP official told Reuters on Monday. However, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was not happy with the troops’ presence.
“What’s happening here is, we have dozens, if not hundreds of federal troops descending upon our city. And what they’re doing is, they are sharply escalating the situation,” Wheeler said last weekend.
Critics of President Donald Trump believe he is testing out his heavy-handed approach in Portland, a largely white city, before moving on to more diverse cities. Critics also accused Trump of adding gas to the fire of ongoing national protests over racial injustice and police brutality.
“My sense is they chose Portland because if they had rolled this out in, say, Minneapolis, it would mean to come in direct confrontation with many more Black activists,” Joe Lowndes, a professor of political science at the University of Oregon told USA Today. “With Portland, it’s a whiter city and they can demonize Antifa or the idea of anarchist looters and kind of take race out of it in a direct way, and make it seem more sympathetic.’’