Trump: Federal agents to remain in Portland until police clear it of 'anarchists'
United States federal agents deployed to Portland, the scene of heavy protests, will remain in the city until local police can complete the cleansing of anarchists and agitators, said President Donald Trump.
The forces, whose deployment is seen by many as part of the president's law and order strategy for his reelection in the November presidential election, and which has exacerbated tensions with anti-racism protesters, had begun their withdrawal from Portland on Thursday.
Homeland Security will not leave Portland until local police finish cleaning up anarchists and agitators, the president tweeted, after federal agents had begun a scheduled withdrawal from the largest city in the state of Oregon, shaken by strong protests against racism and police brutality.
Hundreds of protesters were on the streets of downtown Portland early Saturday morning, but no federal forces were in sight.
A protester, who only gave her first name, Rudi, wondered: What does cleaning mean? Nothing happens that needs cleaning… no riot, no looting. Trump is only talking to agitate his fan base, the 39-year-old man told AFP.
An AFP journalist said that despite the fact that people remained on the streets, the atmosphere was calm, with no visible presence of federal agents.
Earlier, Portland police cleared downtown parks and highways on Friday in anticipation of the gradual pullout of federal forces.
Portland Mayor Democrat Ted Wheeler said the action was part of the federal agents' withdrawal agreement.
In a tweet late Friday, Wheeler thanked the peaceful protesters and said they had reclaimed the space that had been the scene of violence to share their powerful message of reforming justice.