- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2020

Portland’s once unruly protesters policed themselves Thursday night, with some of them snuffing out fires started by other demonstrators as they sought to prove the city can control itself without needing to have federal agents involved.

Thursday marked the start of the handoff of security control outside the federal courthouse in Oregon’s largest city, as federal officers and agents yielded to state and local police, under a deal struck by Gov. Kate Brown and the Trump administration.

Portland police said there were mass marches and chants and some unruly behavior, including attempts to set fires inside the fence line at the federal courthouse that’s become the focal point of recent riots.

But both police and activists on the ground reported that the fires were quickly squelched by other protesters.

“Some people climbed on or near the fence at the federal courthouse, but others admonished them and they got down,” the Portland Police Bureau said in its recap of the night. “People could be heard in the crowd repeating that the protest was to remain peaceful.”

That’s dramatically different than recent weeks, when commercial-grade fireworks, Molotov cocktails, bottles and rocks and other projectiles have pummeled the courthouse and the agents sent to reinforce the security detail.

On Wednesday the Democratic governor and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced they’d reached a deal — state police would be deployed to keep the peace, and the federal forces would withdraw.

Wednesday night saw more violent clashes, and tear gas used by the feds to disperse the crowd. But on Thursday morning the state and local authorities began to take the reins, clearing the local parks that had served as a staging area.

Protest leaders also appeared to buy into the deal, making new efforts to impose control on the more violent and unruly elements of the crowd. Both local officials and protesters said they had allowed the violence of recent weeks to overshadow the racial justice message that had originally sparked the protests.

Thursday night’s protests also broke up earlier than usual, police reported.

Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell credited the protesters for moderating their own behavior.

“Thank you to all those who demonstrated peacefully last night as well as those who interceded to stop any attempts to light fires or throw projectiles,” he said. “It’s time to move forward and make transformative changes.”

Ms. Brown crowed over the more peaceful evening.

“Last night, the world was watching Portland. Here’s what they saw: Federal troops left downtown. Local officials protected free speech. And Oregonians spoke out for Black Lives Matter, racial justice and police accountability through peaceful, non-violent protest,” she said.

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