New ‘wall’ of military veterans protect protesters in Portland
A group of military veterans joined protesters in the city for the first time Friday night, standing with their hands clasped behind their backs or holding Black Lives Matter signs, according to a New York Times reporter and others from the scene.
“Disabled veterans 4 BLM,” one vet’s sign read.
“I am an American patriot. Federal troops defend property, but this does give them the right to take away my constitutional freedom,” another sign from a veteran read.
Federal officers have been dispatched to the city since July 4, earning criticism for “kidnapping” protesters and tear-gassing crowds that have held demonstrations over the police killing of George Floyd for more than 50 days.
On Friday night, the federal police used tear gas to try to disperse a large crowd in front of the federal courthouse after multiple fireworks were shot toward the building, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier in the week, federal agents teargassed a crowd that included Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who was attending a demonstration.
Wheeler said the troops were grossly overstepping their authority.
But President Trump has praised the federal police there for doing a “great job” in fighting off what he described as “anarchist” arsonists trying to damage the city’s federal courthouse.
On Thursday Trump mocked the mayor over his tear-gassing.
“[Wheeler] made a fool out of himself,” Trump said during a Fox News interview.
“He wanted to be among the people so he went into the crowd and they knocked the hell out of him. That was the end of him. So it was pretty pathetic.”
Large crowds gathered again Friday night as the officers stood their ground in front of the federal courthouse.
“Walls” of moms — and walls of dads — were also reportedly in attendance.