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City of Portland demands removal of fence around federal courthouse because it blocks bike lane

An official said the fence needs to be removed promptly, and if it isn’t, the city will consider fines and potential legal action.
Credit: KGW
Fence around the federal courthouse in downtown Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. — The City of Portland Thursday demanded federal authorities remove a metal fence and concrete barriers it says were illegally installed around the federal courthouse in downtown Portland.

The fence is a safety hazard because it blocks the bike lane on Southwest Main Street, according to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. PBOT said the bike route is one of the busiest in the United States.

“The structures are both unpermitted and represent a hazard to the traveling public,” Chris Warner, director of PBOT, wrote in a letter to the U.S. General Services Administration.

Warner said the fence needs to be removed promptly, and if it isn’t, the city will consider fines and potential legal action.

Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees PBOT, said the construction of the fence at that spot “is both an abuse of public space and a threat to the traveling public.”

"It is shameful that unnamed, unannounced federal agents would illegally erect a wall to hide from the people they are sworn to serve, and I have instructed PBOT to closely monitor the federal occupiers’ actions for additional violations," Eudaly said.

Last weekend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said the fencing around the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, which is just a block north of the Multnomah County Justice Center, was meant to de-escalate tensions between protesters and federal law enforcement. 

That has not happened. Similarly to the fence Portland police put around the Justice Center, the new fence around the courthouse has drawn the ire of protesters, who are calling for police reform or abolishment, and an end to systemic racism. That area of downtown Portland has been the site of nightly clashes between protesters and Portland police, as well as federal officers since their arrival in the city earlier this month.

The presence of federal officers in Portland has been met with criticism from city and state leaders who say federal agents are escalating tensions between law enforcement and protesters.

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