US president Donald Trump on Thursday, July 30, threatened to deploy the National Guard to Portland, if local and state authorities do not quell protests. His statement came after the city police took over the security of the city courthouse from federal law enforcement agencies. The courthouse was the place of intense violence on the part of federal forces on protesters, on multiple occasions.
Trump accused the state administration of not doing enough to disperse the nightly demonstrations, calling them a “beehive of terrorists”. The president also stated that the forces deployed by his administration will remain in the city on “standby”.
This statement by the president comes despite the Oregon state governor, Kate Brown, having made arrangements for gradual repeal of federal forces from the city. The governor responded to Trump by criticizing his failed attempts at violently cracking down on the protests.
Trump has made similar threats to deploy National Guard on cities and states to quell the national wave of anti-racist protests, earlier this month. Since the protests erupted in May, the deployment of the force against political unrest has been the largest ever. Over 17,000 guardsmen were deployed across 26 of the 50 states last year.
Over the past few weeks, protesters and local authorities in Portland have complained, and in some cases took judicial action, about these federal forces using excessive force and engaging in illegal acts of repression. Several reports emerged of protesters taken away in unmarked vehicles, without warrants and without being read the Miranda rights, a customary disclaimer of the detainees’ right to remain silent.
These denouncements and the viral videos of police repression prompted an intensification of the ongoing anti-racism protests across the United States. Since Saturday, last week, demonstrations erupted in solidarity with protests across the country. These demonstrations witnessed the death of one protester in Austin and dozens of arrests across the country in violent police attacks.
Earlier this week, protesters in the national capital, Washington DC, also held demonstrations against the presence of federal agents in Portland. The city had witnessed a violent crackdown by the National Guard in the beginning of the month, as protesters had surrounded the White House in peaceful demonstrations.