PORTLAND, Ore. — Leaders in Portland, Oregon, caught their breath and moved forward with cautious optimism Friday after the first nightly protest in weeks ended without any major confrontations, violence, or arrests.
The dramatic change in tone outside a federal courthouse that’s become ground zero in clashes between demonstrators and federal agents came after the US government began drawing down its forces under a deal between Democratic Governor Kate Brown and the Trump administration.
As agents from US Customs and Border Protection, the US Marshals Service, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement pulled back, troopers with the Oregon State Police were supposed to take over. There were no signs of any law enforcement presence outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, however, where a protest lasted into early Friday.
“Last night, the world was watching Portland. Here’s what they saw: Federal troops left downtown. Local officials protected free speech. And Oregonians spoke out for Black Lives Matter, racial justice, and police accountability through peaceful, non-violent protest,” Brown said in a tweet Friday.
Still, more than 130 federal agents stationed near the federal courthouse will stay put as part of a “quick reaction force” as other federal forces withdraw, according to an internal Department of Homeland Security document reviewed by The Washington Post.
The “quick reaction force,” a military term, will be able to rush in to deal with unrest if the Oregon State Police need help, according to the document.
The DHS document says there are still more than 150 Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel in the Portland area, including more than 110 Border Patrol agents, more than 30 members of Special Response Teams, and air support specialists.
Mayor Ted Wheeler also struck an optimistic tone but cautioned that there was much work to be done after more than 60 days of protests — and not just in cleaning up downtown Portland.
Local and state leaders are taking action on calls for racial justice reform, he said. Brown and regional and local leaders are pushing for a raft of measures that would address systemic racism in everything from policing to housing. Those proposals could be fast-tracked for consideration in a special legislative session later this summer.
Portland’s City Council also voted this week to refer a ballot measure to voters in November that would create a police review board independent from any elected official or city department.
Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security has compiled “intelligence reports” about the work of American journalists covering the protests in Portland, in what current and former officials called an alarming use of a government system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.
Over the past week, the department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis has disseminated three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others, summarizing tweets written by two journalists — a reporter for the New York Times and the editor in chief of the blog Lawfare — and noting they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland. The intelligence reports, obtained by The Washington Post, include written descriptions and images of the tweets and the number of times they had been liked or retweeted by others.
After The Post published a story online Thursday evening detailing the department’s practices, the acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, ordered the intelligence office to stop collecting information on journalists and announced an investigation into the matter.
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Black Lives Matter mural to be washed away in Tulsa
For almost two decades, Tulsa’s Greenwood Avenue was an epicenter of Black wealth and entrepreneurship — until the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, when a white mob killed more than 300 residents and razed the neighborhood, a watershed moment of violent white supremacy.
On June 18, local activists made national headlines when they chose that street for a huge Black Lives Matter mural in yellow letters to commemorate Juneteenth and to send a message to President Trump, who would fly over the sign on his way to a rally in the city two days later.
Now, Tulsa City Council members have ordered that the mural be washed away. The decision from Wednesday’s council meeting comes after a pro-police group asked the city to paint a mural in support of the Tulsa Police Department.
Councilor Connie Dodson insisted that the decision was not tied to the Black Lives Matter message of the Greenwood Avenue mural — but rather said that if it was allowed to stand, other murals, like the pro-police message, would also have to be allowed.
‘‘I applaud it,’’ she said in Wednesday’s meeting. ‘‘It’s great. But . . . it comes down to . . . if you allow one, then you have to allow all of them.’’
Black Lives Matter messages have been painted on streets around the US this summer, and many have attracted controversy. In New York, a mural on Fifth Avenue, outside of Trump Tower, has been vandalized at least four times and at least two of the people responsible have been charged with a hate crime. Similar incidents have occurred in Martinez, Calif., Cincinnati, and Oak Park, Ill.
But in other places, like Redwood City, Calif., the city has ordered the street paintings erased after political opponents have demanded their own messages on the asphalt.
On the eve of Juneteenth, Ryan Rhoades, the artist who organized the 250-foot mural, and dozens of volunteers painted the mural through the night. Rhoades had never intended on having the mural last for a long time, he told KOKI, explaining that he had intended to buy chalk-based paint, which would wash away from the rain. But the mural lasted and symbolized a moment of hope and healing for the community.
The city knew that Rhoades didn’t have a permit, but unlike other cities, they turned a blind eye. That was until Bob Jack, the chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party, sent a letter to a city councilor and the mayor’s office inquiring about painting competing murals, according to the Tulsa World. The street would read, ‘‘Back the Blue,’’ a message in support of the Tulsa Police Department. Jack also mentioned a proposed mural that read, ‘‘Baby Lives Matter.’’