After President Trump ordered federal law enforcement officers into Portland, Ore., earlier this month, the protests largely ended the same way for days: with tear gas, rubber bullets and arrests.
On Thursday, the first protest held since the federal agencies agreed to pull back their officers was a markedly more peaceful affair.
As the Black Lives Matter-inspired vigil wound down early Friday morning, there was virtually no sign of the Oregon State Police officers who had taken over protection of the federal buildings at the center of the protests.
Instead of being forcibly removed from downtown’s Lownsdale Square and the adjacent Chapman Square, which lie opposite the barricaded Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse, the crowd thinned out on its own, with many protesters heading home of their own accord.
By a little after 1 a.m., only a relatively small crew remained, far down from the enormous crowd that had gathered four hours earlier to listen to speakers and chant anti-law enforcement slogans. The mood was celebratory, if subdued.
“Trump overplayed his hand,” said Derrick, a 30-year-old protester wearing a helmet, ski goggles and carrying a shield with the Oregon flag on it. “He underestimated us.”
“I don’t think he realizes there are so many people aligned with the so-called antifa, what he calls terrorists,” added Derrick, who asked that his full name not be published. [Continue reading…]