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Portland protests remained peaceful Friday night as over a thousand demonstrators gathered in front of downtown's courthouse, just days after federal officers withdrew from the city.

Usually a hotspot for violent clashes with law enforcement, demonstraters instead congregated outside of Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Oregon, with balloons, flags, and painted signs chanting "Black Lives Matter.



A demonstrator raises her fist while listening to a speech during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Portland, Ore. After days of clashes with federal police, the crowd outside of the federal courthouse remained peaceful Thursday night.  (AP)

The scene was in stark contrast to previous nights in the over 60 days of protests in the same spot following the death of George Floyd, where demonstrators pelted police with bottles, fireworks and other projectiles and attacked the fence around the courthouse, setting fires around the area and police deploying pepper spray to disperse crowds.

Since Democratic Gov. Kate Brown announced federal troops would begin a "phased withdrawal" from the city as part of an agreement with Trump's Department of Homeland Security on Thursday, the city has remained notably less angst-filled.

Isolated pockets of disturbance punctuated the otherwise calm movement after midnight Saturday, and protesters were quick to chastize rogue actors.


A lone firework was thrown across the fence and at the courthouse, where officers stood guard inside and other demonstrators pleaded with the crowd to remain non-violent.

Later, a few small fires were occasionally started outside the courthouse, and protesters helped to put out at least one of them.

A group identified as “Firefighters for Black Lives Matter” gathered in a small park a couple of miles west of the courthouse. Another group, “Unemployed Workers for Black Lives” began to march towards the federal building around 8 p.m. People stood next to a makeshift memorial, with the pictures and names of Black people killed by police, at the Waterfront Park. A parade of cars with Black Lives Matter signs taped to their windows slowed traffic in the city.

A crowd gathers during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Portland, Ore. After days of clashes with federal police, the crowd outside of the federal courthouse remained peaceful Thursday night. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Just after midnight, the crowd had grown to over 1,000 people who remained outside chanting “Black Lives Matter” and shouting the names of Black people killed by police. Groups were also standing together engaging in conversations about social injustice.

President Trump had sent officers from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Marshals Service, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect federal property in the city but the move only heightened the angst and violence in the city, which was already reeling from months of demonstrations.

Brown said that once federal agents clear the city, Oregon State Police would be the primary law enforcement body with a presence in the city.


The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Vandana Rambaran is a reporter covering news and politics at She can be found on Twitter @vandanarambaran

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US sees embarrassing UN defeat over Iran arms embargo proposal

Photograph: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The US has suffered a humiliating defeat at the United Nations as its proposal to extend an arms embargo on Iran won support from only the Dominican Republic at the security council vote.

The US resolution was never likely to be passed in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition. It was proposed as a ploy by the Trump administration to open the way to more drastic action against Iran.

But the scale of the defeat on Friday underlined US isolation on the world stage ahead of a major diplomatic confrontation that threatens to consume the security council and further sap its authority.

The US stripped anti-Iran rhetoric from earlier drafts of the resolution in the hope of recruiting more supporters, but its insistence that an extension to the UN embargo would be indefinite made that impossible. Estonia and Tunisia withstood eleventh-hour US pressure to support the revised draft, a measure of diminished American clout at the UN. Russia and China voted against the resolution, the US and the Dominican Republic voted in favour, and all the other council members abstained.

Related: Trump’s top Iran envoy quits as US bids to extend Tehran embargo

In his response to the vote, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, lashed out at other member states.

“The Security Council’s failure to act decisively in defense of international peace and security is inexcusable,” he said in a statement issued even before the result of the vote had been declared.

US officials have said that following the defeat of the arms embargo resolution, they would embark within days on a legally controversial tactic in an effort to restore UN sanctions lifted when Iran signed a nuclear deal with major powers in 2015.

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has a mechanism that allows any of the parties to the agreement to “snap back” UN sanctions on Iran.

Trump withdrew the US from the JCPOA in 2018 but US diplomats and lawyers will argue it is still technically a party to the agreement and therefore empowered to snap back sanctions. Most of the rest of the world, including some of Washington’s closest allies, disagrees, but the Trump administration has so far shown itself ready to proceed virtually alone.

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“The US goal this week has pretty obviously been to table a resolution that will fail, so they’ve got an excuse for going to snapback next week,” Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group. “It’s just a little bit embarrassing that it has failed so badly.”

The US special envoy on Iran, Brian Hook, announced his resignation days before the arms embargo resolution at the UN.

If the US proceeds with its snapback plan, it could lead to a situation in which there is no agreement on the status of UN arms sanctions, with the US declaring they are in effect and most other countries insisting there are not.

“Frankly, we’re soon going to be entering what you could call ‘security council in Wonderland’, by which the US will claim that the snapback train is rolling and others refuse to accept that,” Gowan said. “There will be lots of procedural fights in the council. But basically there will be two realities.”

The UK could find itself trapped between those two realities, forced to choose between them. London so far has stuck closely to an agreed European line with France and Germany.

“It appears the UK has chosen to put its security relationship with Paris and Berlin ahead of its desire for a Brexit trade deal with the US,” Gowan said.

Vladimir Putin has suggested a videoconference summit on Iran, and the Élysée Palace in Paris signaled that Emmanuel Macron was open to the suggestion. Donald Trump said he had heard about the proposal but had not been told the details. Trump and Macron spoke by phone on Friday but the White House account of the call did not mention the proposed summit.

Suzanne DiMaggio, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment Institute for Peace, said that the US focus was not on building coalitions on the issue but on provoking a diplomatic confrontation at the UN to please Trump’s core supporters.

She said the ultimate US aim was also to try to provoke Iran into a reaction, possibly leaving the JCPOA itself, or even expel international nuclear inspectors.

“It is a scorched-earth approach, destroying JCPOA in order to make it difficult for a Biden administration, and for the Iranians, to return to it,” DiMaggio said. “They’re not concerned with keeping a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. They really want to kill this deal.”

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