Federal officers use gas to clear protesters in Portland after US official calls demonstrators 'violent anarchists'

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Friday, July 17, 2020
Federal officers use gas to clear protesters in Portland
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Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters in Oregon late Thursday.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Federal officers deployed tear gas and fired less-lethal rounds into a crowd of protesters in Oregon, hours after the head of the Department of Homeland Security visited Portland and called the demonstrators "violent anarchists."

Video showed many protesters leaving the area near the federal courthouse late Thursday as smoke filled the air. Protests have taken place for nearly two months in Portland, since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

US official visits Portland, calls protesters 'anarchists'

During a visit to Portland earlier Thursday, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said state and city authorities are to blame for not putting an end to the protests, angering local officials.

Mayor Ted Wheeler and other local officials have said they didn't ask for help from federal law enforcement and have asked them to leave.

A few hundred people had gathered near the federal courthouse Thursday night, news outlets reported. Police told protesters to leave after announcing they heard some chanting about burning down the building, according to The Oregonian.

A short time later, federal officers fired rounds and deployed tear gas to break up the crowd. Some protesters remained in the area early Friday and were detained, but it was unclear whether any arrests were made, the newspaper reported.

Homeland Security acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli said Friday morning on "Fox & Friends" that the federal government has a responsibility to protect buildings such as the courthouse.

"What we've seen around the country is where responsible policing is advanced, violence recedes," Cuccinelli said. "And Portland hasn't gotten that memo. Nor have a lot of other cities. And the president is determined to do what we can, within our jurisdiction, to help restore peace to these beleaguered cities."

President Donald Trump recently sent the federal officers to the city. Tensions have escalated in the past two weeks, particularly after an officer with the U.S. Marshals Service fired a less-lethal round at a protester's head on July 11, critically injuring him.

Man charged for allegedly attacking US Marshal with hammer during Portland protest

A 23-year-old Texas man is facing federal charges after he allegedly hit a U.S. Marshal deputy with a hammer in Portland during a night of protests.

The Oregon U.S. Attorney's Office released images they say show Jacob Michael Gaines armed with a hammer outside a federal courthouse in downtown Portland on July 11.

After Gaines damaged the door to the building, video shows U.S. Marshals in full tactical gear pouring out of the courthouse.

Authorities say Gaines attempted to breach the barricaded entrance and as deputies attempted to detain him, he hit a deputy with the hammer three times.

The deputy was hit in the shoulder, neck and back but was not seriously hurt.

Police on Twitter posted a photo of the hammer they say was reco