PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Business Alliance (PBA), which serves as Portland’s chamber of commerce, released a statement Tuesday saying federal officers should leave the city.
“The Portland Business Alliance stands unified with our regional and state leaders in calling for peace and the departure of a heightened federal presence in Portland,” the organization said.
The statement comes as The Associated Press reports President Donald Trump’s administration has begun talks with Gov. Kate Brown’s office on pulling federal agents out of Portland if the state steps up its enforcement in response to the ongoing protests. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty on Monday requested a meeting with Department of Homeland Security leadership “to discuss a ceasefire and removal of heightened federal forces from Portland.”
While protests have been sustained since the killing of George Floyd, there has been an escalation in tension and violence since federal officers arrived in Portland at the beginning of the month, as most nights end with tear gas filling the air in the area of downtown where the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse and Multnomah County Justice Center sit.
Some business owners say the protests are creating a difficult situation for them to stay afloat as they also deal with the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
The PBA said the presence of federal officers is only making things worse downtown and detracting from the message of protesters.
Here’s the full statement from the PBA:
The presence of federal agents in a single block of downtown Portland has led to a near-universal upset and a worsening of conditions on our streets over the last two weeks.
In response, some individuals have engaged in criminal acts - including significant property damage - on a nightly basis. These activities detract from the ongoing movement against racism.
Their presence is overshadowing our strategic goals: economic equity for our Black residents, regional prosperity for all, and stopping the spread of COVID-19 so that our economy can begin to recover.
The Portland Business Alliance stands unified with our regional and state leaders in calling for peace and the departure of a heightened federal presence in Portland.
We need peace in the heart of our region's economy to begin the work of rebuilding together and restoring desperately needed jobs.
The people of Portland can accomplish amazing things by working together. It is time to act locally and show our community what it means to be part of this beautiful region.