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Trump’s deployment of federal agents to quell Portland protests draws local ire

As U.S. protests continue over police violence and racism, some of them have been met with a federal response. One such place is Portland, Oregon -- where local officials believe the presence of federal agents is doing more harm than good. But President Trump has defended his decision to deploy them, calling the protesters, who have been mostly peaceful, “anarchists.” John Yang reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some of the recent protests against police violence and racism have been met with a federal response.

    And in Portland, Oregon, local officials believe that presence is causing more harm than good.

    John Yang reports on the growing rift between President Trump and local leaders.

  • John Yang:

    For more than 50 days, protesters have crowded the streets of Portland, Oregon, in response to the killing of George Floyd. Many of the demonstrations stayed peaceful.

    But following the increased presence of federal agents this month, clashes between law enforcement and protesters have escalated. City officials say that's caused an uptick in arson, vandalism, and alleged police brutality.

  • Gov. Kate Brown, D-Ore.:

    It's like pouring gasoline on a fire.

  • John Yang:

    Sunday night, a group of mothers linked arms to protect hundreds of protesters outside the federal courthouse. But, later, federal authorities broke up the crowd by setting off flash bangs and tear gas.

  • Man:

    Four or five men jump out and just start rushing at all of us. It was absolutely terrifying.

  • John Yang:

    Today, President Trump defended his decision to deploy federal law enforcement officers in Portland.

  • President Donald Trump:

    More federal law enforcement. That, I can tell you. In Portland, they have done a fantastic job. These are anarchists. These are not protesters. People say protesters. These people are anarchists.

    These are people that hate our country. And we're not going to let it go forward.

  • John Yang:

    State and local officials want them off the streets.

  • Ted Wheeler:

    Leave. Your presence here is not wanted. It's not needed.

  • John Yang:

    Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

  • Ted Wheeler:

    Unmarked vehicles driving into crowds, pulling people off the streets without any probable cause, as far as I can tell.

    And the people who are engaging in these activities aren't even willing to identify who they are, and they don't wear an insignia on their uniform. That's a real threat to democracy.

  • John Yang:

    On Fox News this morning, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said his agents don't need invitations to do their jobs.

    On Friday, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum sued the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies for allegedly violating protesters' civil rights. The suit claims agents in unmarked cars took people off the streets without warrants.

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon also sued DHS and the U.S. Marshals Service for allegedly violating the rights of journalists and legal observers.

    Oregon Democrats accuse the president of playing politics.

  • Ted Wheeler:

    There's no question in my mind that this is a very cynical ploy on the part of the Trump White House. It's targeting not only the city of Portland, but other democratically controlled cities. And I absolutely believe that the play here is to support his own base.

  • John Yang:

    Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley tweeted he will seek legislation barring the administration from sending paramilitary squads into U.S. cities.

    As protests continue across the country, Portland is not the Trump administration's only focus. Today, The Chicago Tribune reported, DHS plans to deploy 150 agents in Chicago.

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