/Mayor of Portland, Oregon, tear gassed by federal agents

Mayor of Portland, Oregon, tear gassed by federal agents


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The mayor of Portland, Oregon, was tear gassed by the U.S. government late Wednesday as he stood at a fence guarding a federal courthouse during another night of protest against the presence of federal agents sent by President Donald Trump to quell unrest in the city.

Mayor Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, said it was the first time he’d been tear gassed and appeared slightly dazed and coughed as he put on a pair of goggles someone handed him and drank water. He didn’t leave his spot at the front, however, and continued to take gas. Around Wheeler, the protest raged, with demonstrators lighting a large fire in the space between the fence and the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse and the pop-pop-pop of federal agents deploying tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the federal agents knew Wheeler was in the crowd when they used the tear gas.

Earlier in the night, Wheeler was mostly jeered as he tried to rally demonstrators who have clashed nightly with federal agents but was briefly applauded when he shouted “Black Lives Matter” and pumped his fist in the air. The mayor has opposed federal agents’ presence in Oregon’s largest city, but he has faced harsh criticism from many sides and his presence wasn’t welcomed by many, who yelled and swore at him.

“I want to thank the thousands of you who have come out to oppose the Trump administration’s occupation of this city,” Wheeler told hundreds of people gathered downtown near the federal courthouse. “The reason this is important is it is not just happening in Portland … we’re on the front line here in Portland.”

Some Portland residents, including City Council members, have accused Wheeler of not reining in local police, who have used tear gas multiple times before federal agents arrived early this month in response to nearly two months of nightly protests since George Floyd was killed. Others, including business leaders, have condemned Wheeler for not bringing the situation under control before the agents showed up.

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PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : A person holds a banner at the Portland Mom’s March near the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. Over a thousand people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrated for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 20: Federal police walk through tear gas while dispersing a crowd of about a thousand protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 20, 2020 in Portland, Ore. The federal police response to the ongoing protests against racial inequality has been criticized by city and state elected officials. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : Portland protesters confront the Federal marshals directly in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. Over a thousand people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrated for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21: A federal officer stares down a protester in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the federal officers to leave Portland as clashes between protesters and federal police continue to escalate. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : Many people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrate for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 20: A protester rides his bike past a tear gas grenade after federal police dispersed a crowd of about a thousand protesters at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 20, 2020 in Portland, Ore. The federal police response to the ongoing protests against racial inequality has been criticized by city and state elected officials. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : Federal officers deploy huge quantities of CS tear gas in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. Over a thousand people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrated for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21: A protester escapes a federal officer during an arrest attempt in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the federal officers to leave Portland as clashes between protesters and federal police continue to escalate. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : People gather for the Portland Mom’s March near the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. Over a thousand people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrated for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21: A protester flies an American flag while walking through tear gas fired by federal officers during a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Ore. The federal police response to the ongoing protests against racial inequality has been criticized by city and state elected officials. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 21: Two examples of the protective vests with identifying markings worn by Border Patrol and Homeland Security agents during a press conference with Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on the recent events involving the agents during continued protests in Portland at the US Customs and Border Patrol headquarters on July 21, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21:A federal officer tells the crowd to move while dispersing a protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. State and city elected officials have called for the federal officers to leave Portland as clashes between protesters and federal police continue to escalate. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, Oregon, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : A person holds a banner at the Portland Mom’s March near the Justice Center in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. Over a thousand people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrated for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Federal officers pull a protester into the Federal Courthouse, Friday, July 10, 2020, as protesters gather in downtown Portland, Ore., Friday, July 10, 2020. Soon after, Portland police tweeted that federal officers arrested a protester around 11 p.m. “related to vandalizing the Federal Courthouse.” (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

A group of mothers stand arm-in-arm outside the federal building and Justice Center in downtown Portland, Ore., on Saturday, July 18, 2020, during another night of protests in Portland. (Mark Graves/The Oregonian via AP)

Federal officers pull a protester into the Federal Courthouse, Friday, July 10, 2020, as protesters gather in downtown Portland, Ore., Friday, July 10, 2020. Soon after, Portland police tweeted that federal officers arrested a protester around 11 p.m. “related to vandalizing the Federal Courthouse.” (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, Oregon, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Protesters react during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, Oregon, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, Oregon, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 17: Protestors attempt to barricade a door to the Multnomah County Justice Center on July 17, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Federal law enforcement agencies attempt to intervene as protests continue in Portland. (Photo by Mason Trinca/Getty Images)

A federal law enforcement officer, deployed under the Trump administration’s new executive order to protect federal monuments and buildings spreads tear gas during a protest over racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, U.S. July 17, 2020. Picture taken July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Nathan Howard TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them.(Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Police respond to protesters during a demonstration, Friday, July 17, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Militarized federal agents deployed by the president to Portland, fired tear gas against protesters again overnight as the city’s mayor demanded that the agents be removed and as the state’s attorney general vowed to seek a restraining order against them.(Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP)

Police gather as protesters gather during a demonstration, Thursday, July 16, 2020 in Portland, Ore. Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters late Thursday. The actions came just hours after the head of the Department of Homeland Security called the protesters “violent anarchists.” (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

Protesters gathered downtown during a demonstration Thursday, July 16, 2020 n Portland, Ore. Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters late Thursday. The actions came just hours after the head of the Department of Homeland Security called the protesters “violent anarchists.” (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

FILE – In this Friday, July 10, 2020, file photo, Federal officers pull a protester into the Federal Courthouse as protesters gather in downtown Portland, Ore. The mayor of Portland, Oregon said late Sunday, July 12, 2020, the U.S. Marshals Service are investigating the injury of a protester who was hospitalized in critical condition over the weekend after being hit in the head by an impact weapon fired by a federal law enforcement officer. Mayor Ted Wheeler said he spoke with with U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams and learned of the investigation. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian via AP, File)

Protesters gather during a demonstration in Portland, Ore., Thursday, July 16, 2020. Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters late Thursday. The actions came just hours after the head of the Department of Homeland Security called the protesters “violent anarchists.” (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 22: A protester is surrounded by tear gas near the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020 in Portland, Ore. The federal police response to the ongoing protests against racial inequality has been criticized by city and state elected officials. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Washington Post

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 21: Federal officers are surrounded by tear gas while clearing the street in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Ore. The federal police response to the ongoing protests against racial inequality has been criticized by city and state elected officials. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Washington Post

PORTLAND, OR – JULY 22: Protesters try to put out a fire in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020 in Portland, Ore. The federal police response to the ongoing protests against racial inequality has been criticized by city and state elected officials. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Washington Post

PORTLAND, OREGON, USA – JULY 21 : Federal officers fire tear gas and rubber bullets at the demonstrators in Portland, Oregon on July 21, 2020. Over a thousand people, including a large march of mothers, demonstrated for racial justice and against Donald Trumpâs insertion of Federal officers in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by John Rudoff/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

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Protesters in the crowd held signs aloft that read “Tear Gas Ted” in reference to the Portland Police Bureau’s use of the substance before federal agents arrived. When the mayor left the protest, around 12:40 a.m., some protesters surrounded him and shouted angrily at him as he walked away. One person shouted, “You’ve got to be here every single night!”

While taking questions Wednesday night — and before he was tear gassed — Wheeler was criticized for the actions of his own police department, not defunding the local police and not having Portland police protect people from federal agents. The mayor said he wants to use the energy of the protests to make changes.

Wheeler then addressed the much larger crowd from a raised balcony, saying “I am here tonight to stand with you.”

Earlier Wednesday, the City Council banned police from cooperating with federal agents or arresting reporters or legal observers.

Wheeler’s tense nighttime appearance downtown came hours after attorneys for Oregon urged a judge to issue a restraining order against agents deployed to quell the protests.

The arguments from the state and the U.S. government came in a lawsuit filed by Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who accuses federal agents of arresting protesters without probable cause, whisking them away in unmarked cars and using excessive force. Federal authorities have disputed those allegations.

The lawsuit is part of the growing pushback to Trump sending federal agents to Portland and announcing they would be going to Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, to fight rising crime, a move that’s deepening the country’s political divide and potentially setting up a constitutional crisis months ahead of the presidential election. Democratic mayors of 15 cities condemned the use of federal officers in a letter to the U.S. attorney general.

The court hearing focused on the actions of more than 100 federal agents responding to protests outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which has been a target for the demonstrations.

The motion for a temporary restraining order asks U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman to command agents from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Patrol, Federal Protective Service and U.S. Marshals Service to immediately stop detaining protesters without probable cause, identify themselves and their agency before arresting anyone, and explain why an arrest is taking place.

The state acknowledged that federal agents have the right to defend the courthouse but argued that they had overstepped.

Rosenblum, the state attorney general, said she wanted the court to “declare it not acceptable for federal officers to use unconstitutional, police-state-type acts to detain citizens of Oregon without cause.”

David Morrell, an attorney for the U.S. government, called the motion “extraordinary” and said it was based solely on “a few threadbare declarations” from witnesses and a Twitter video.

“The Hatfield courthouse did not damage itself,” he said, calling the protests “dangerous and volatile.”

Beaten with batons, chemical irritants and hit with rubber bullets

The lawsuit is one of several filed over authorities’ response to the Portland protests. On Thursday, a judge will hear arguments in a legal challenge that the American Civil Liberties Union filed on behalf of journalists and legal observers who say they were targeted and attacked by Portland police while documenting demonstrations.

A freelance photographer covering the protests for The Associated Press submitted an affidavit that he was beaten with batons, chemical irritants and hit with rubber bullets.

A U.S. judge previously ruled that journalists and legal observers are exempt from police orders requiring protesters to disperse once an unlawful assembly has been declared. Federal lawyers say that journalists should have to leave when ordered.

The ACLU filed another lawsuit Wednesday on behalf of volunteer medics who have been attending to injured protesters. It alleges that federal agents have used rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, batons and stun grenades against medics in violation of federal protections for freedom of speech and freedom of movement.

Police say protesters have tried repeatedly to break into the federal courthouse and set fires around it and that the federal agents drive them back with tear gas and stun grenades.

Federal authorities have defended their response, saying officials in Oregon had been unwilling to work with them to stop the vandalism against the the U.S. courthouse and violence against federal officers.

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