As Federal Police Withdraw, Portland Protests Take Newly Gentle Tone

Thursday and Friday nights marked the first time in more than two weeks that the three blocks surrounding the federal courthouse saw no tear gas.

Something unusual has occurred in the two nights since Oregon state troopers replaced federal police outside Portland courthouses: calm.

On the two nights Oregon State Police have assumed responsibility from a federal task force for guarding the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, officers haven't confronted protesters in the street. Demonstrators have stood and chanted but have mostly refrained from defacing the building with graffiti or fireworks.

As a result, Thursday and Friday nights marked the first time in more than two weeks that the three blocks surrounding the federal courthouse saw no tear gas.

Even President Donald Trump, who gave Oregon Gov. Kate Brown two days to restore order, conceded Friday that the federal withdrawal was working. "Last night, that was a big step," Trump said in a meeting with police unions. "But let's see how they do."

Video taken by reporter Sergio Olmos shows a stark contrast in the scenes downtown Tuesday and Thursday nights. Early on July 29, protesters used hockey sticks to swat tear gas canisters back at the federal agents who launched them.

Two nights later, protesters stood and chanted, "Black lives matter!" and, "Feds go home!" before themselves going home   without conflict.

The deescalation appears to be emerging from both state police and Portland protesters. In recent nights, demonstrators have sought to tamp down property damage and bonfire building within their ranks—the latest chapter in an ongoing argument about tactics.

For the moment, that has left the president with little to bluster about. On July 31, meeting with police unions, he told a lengthy story about protesters throwing full cans of soup at officers.

"And when they get caught, they say, 'No, this is just soup for my family.' And then the media says, 'This is just soup. These people are very, very innocent. They're innocent people. These are just protesters. Isn't it wonderful to allow protesting?' No."

Portland protesters have in fact thrown full cans at federal officers, but most of the canned goods displayed by law enforcement have not been soup. More commonly, protesters have thrown cans of beans or hard seltzer. WW is not aware of any protester claiming that the cans were intended to feed their families.

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