Federal law enforcement agents guarding the federal courthouse in downtown Portland will begin withdrawing as early as Thursday, says Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. “We know where we are headed,” she said. “Complete withdrawal of federal troops from the city and the state.” Federal officials confirmed an agreement but hedged on the timing, cautioning that a departure would depend on the success of the state’s promise to secure the area, the New York Times reports. The agreement marked a stark turnaround for an administration that had aggressively defended the presence of the federal forces. Federal agents came to the city lacking the support of local leaders and found themselves mired in an endless cycle of clashes with demonstrators who opposed their presence.
While President Donald Trump has used images of tactical agents cracking down on protesters in campaign videos, there was an increasing sense in the administration that the violent scenes of unrest linked to federal agents could risk becoming a liability, an administration official said. Among the thousands of protesters who had joined demonstrators were a Wall of Moms, nurses in scrubs, and military veterans. The agreement to hand over responsibility to the Oregon State Police represented a tactical retreat from the continuing confrontations while allowing the administration to save face by saying it had accomplished the security of federal properties. Officials in Oregon said they expected the withdrawal to be carried out in the coming days. The move toward a resolution began last week, when Brown reached out to Vice President Mike Pence, her closest contact in the White House. Brown had spent months working with Pence on the coronavirus pandemic.