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One of the Federal Protective Service’s (FPS) missions is to protect all Americans and their ability to peacefully demonstrate and protest. This past weekend, FPS and its law enforcement partners prepared for several large, planned public gatherings taking place in Portland, Ore. at the federally-owned Terry Shrunk Plaza and the adjacent city-owned Chapman Park, where citizens were planning to express their views, including two groups with opposing ideologies.
“Portland has had a noticeable increase in demonstrations between various groups over the last year,” said Gabriel Russell, the regional director for FPS Region 10. “Response to events involving the many different groups has required a significant reliance on our strong relationship with the Portland Police Bureau, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department and the Oregon State Police to ensure each group is able to voice their views safely.”
After weeks of planning for the potential of these opposing groups to confront each other in the Portland area, FPS officers and law enforcement partners were able to hold the line between the multiple demonstration groups on Sunday, June 4. The events at the Terry Shrunk Plaza and neighboring Chapman Park escalated quickly, turning violent as agitators from both groups began crossing the lines of separation to incite a reaction from the other group.
As FPS officers and local police tried to keep the peace, demonstrators began throwing items at them. Once the events reached a fevered pitch and violence erupted, FPS and the Portland Police Bureau took quick action to keep people safe by closing the city park and shepherding demonstrators in another direction to allow for further separation between the two main groups. Law enforcement officers deployed flash grenades and pepper ball munitions to help disperse the crowds. As a result of the violence and civil disobedience, FPS arrested five individuals and the Portland Police Bureau arrested nine, in addition to confiscating countless prohibited items.
“By the end of the day, all parties had dispersed, no one was seriously injured, and the public was able to exercise the freedom of speech and go home safely,” said District Commander Luis Lopez, who oversees FPS protection operations in Portland. “Our close relationship with the local law enforcement agencies and our joint planning and training truly paid off.”
The Federal Protective Service is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s federal law enforcement agency responsible for protecting approximately 9,000 federal buildings across the country, and the people who visit or work in those facilities. As part of the National Protection and Programs Directorate, FPS ensures that federal property is protected against acts of violence, terrorism, and other hazards to ensure that the safe conduct of government operations and services to our citizens can continue.