KEY POINTS

  • Thursday's protests outside Portland's downtown federal courthouse remained peaceful, despite thousands participating as federal agents began withdrawing from the city
  • Oregon state police remained inside the courthouse for the duration of the protest while protesters reportedly policed themselves
  • President Trump and DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf have said some agents will remain in the city, raising questions on whether protests will remain peaceful

Plans for federal agents to begin withdrawing from downtown Portland, Oregon, appear to have yielded results: The latest Black Lives Matter protests involving thousands of demonstrators near federal property produced no confrontations between protesters and authorities.

Protesters convened outside the downtown federal courthouse Thursday. Protests, sometimes violent, have dominated the city for around two months. Federal agents were noticeably absent Thursday night as local and state police protected the courthouse. Some protesters were seen shaking the fence surrounding the property, but the scene calmed a short time later.

Other members of the protest addressed the crowd directly, urging them to remain peaceful and stop throwing rocks or shooting fireworks at the building.

“Attacking the federal building is not Black Lives Matter,” protester and Portland resident Dan Thomas told the crowd. “Leave it alone. You’re playing into Trump’s hands.”

The protest continued until around 1:30 a.m. when state police exited the building after most of the crowd already had dispersed. Oregon police said around 300 people remained by the time police stepped outside.

Thursday’s scene was in stark contrast to the chaos seen in downtown Portland following the deployment of federal agents ostensibly to protect federal property. This led to repeated clashes with protesters, with tear gas and other crowd control methods used to try and disperse the crowd. Videos went viral of agents in unmarked uniforms and vehicles indiscriminately detaining protesters during the first few nights.

However, questions still remain about whether Thursday’s protests were an anomaly or if they will continue to be peaceful. President Trump said on Twitter Thursday federal agents would remain in the city until peace was restored.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf echoed Trump’s statements, telling Fox News some agents would remain in the city for now.

“Law enforcement officers that have been there over the past 60 days will remain there in Portland until we are assured that the plan that has been put in place by the governor and Oregon State Police will be effective night after night,” Wolf said.

Mothers form a human chain during a protest in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, on July 23, 2020. Mothers form a human chain during a protest in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center in Portland, Oregon, on July 23, 2020. Photo: AFP / Ankur Dholakia