But as the protest ticked closer to its 60th consecutive day, protesters regrouped in front of the courthouse. Federal agents responded to the fireworks from the crowd with tear gas, sending protesters reeling, and later began a pursuit through Portland’s streets.
On Monday, the U.S. attorney in Portland, Billy J. Williams, appealed for an end to the nightly clashes. “I ask all Portlanders to join us in working with community leaders, faith leaders and business leaders to find an end to this,” he said. “The violence is wearing this city out.”
Mayor Ted Wheeler and Jo Ann Hardesty, a city commissioner, said in a statement that they wanted to “discuss a cease-fire and removal of heightened federal forces” with the Department of Homeland Security, including Chad F. Wolf, its acting secretary.
Earlier in the day, federal authorities announced that they had identified 100 additional U.S. Marshals Service personnel to send to Oregon if needed to relieve or supplement the current force protecting federal property there. “We are also determined to reduce the violence aimed at the federal courthouse in Portland by violent extremists,” Drew Wade, a spokesman for the Marshals Service, said in a statement.
Yet even some of the demonstrators who fear that the federal presence has distracted from the original Black Lives Matter message say it is important for the community to voice its opposition to the dispatching of federal agents to a city whose leaders have opposed the deployment. And protesting the militarized federal presence, they say, is not far off message from the long-running protests against the local police.
And some of those who are not engaged in the more aggressive tactics being employed find themselves sympathetic to those who are; the federal government, they say, is repeatedly shooting at protesters with tear gas, pepper balls and other exploding devices, tactics that have sent demonstrators to hospitals.
“There may be people throwing water bottles at officers. I’m not going to do that because I don’t see the point,” said Jennifer Kristiansen, a family-law attorney who joined the Wall of Moms last week and was later arrested by federal agents. “But if people want to express their frustration in that way, I’m not going to stop them.”