Officials in the city of Portland, Oregon aren't happy with the federal government erecting a fence that obstructs a downtown street and have begun assessing a $500 fine for every 15 minutes it remains in place.
Portland's Bureau of Transportation filed a cease and desist order over the fence, Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said Tuesday.
“As of yesterday, the federal government owes us $192,000 and counting,” Eudaly said. “We intend to collect.”
“Typically, we would send a maintenance crew or contractor to remove such an obstruction, but I will not send workers into harm's way,” she added.
The fence was erected by federal agents deployed by the Department of Homeland Security in response to protests in the city over the in-custody death of George Floyd. According to Attorney General William Barr, the agents were sent to Portland in an effort to protect federal functions and federal buildings. The Bureau of Transportation says the fence was placed in a bike lane without permits.
“This fence was constructed without permission or permits on public property, and it is both an abuse of public space and a threat to the traveling public,” Eudaly said.
According to a report from Oregon Public Broadcasting, the federal government rented the fence for three to six months, sending an estimated bill of $208,400 to taxpayers.
According to the U.S. Attorney Office in Oregon, the fence was constructed in an attempt to "de-escalate tensions between protesters and federal law enforcement officers, and to allow much-needed building repairs to begin."
However, officials in Portland say the federal agents have escalated tensions between officials and protests which have led to self-reinforcing cycle of more violence and vandalism. Federal agents have repeatedly deployed peppery spray and tear gas against the protesters while also destroying caches of food and medical supplies. Other peaceful protesters have described being kidnapped by agents who refused to identify themselves or tell them why they were being detained.
The city has seen nightly protests for nearly two months with many peaceful protesters, such as the "Wall of Moms" and the "PDXDadPod" marching and chanting "Black Lives Matter" and "Feds go home." A smaller group of protesters have been spotted lobbing fireworks at the federal courthouse where the fence is erected and lighting small fires in the area.
Photo: Getty Images