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Portland fining feds for fence outside courthouse; bill is $192,000 ‘and counting’

The city is fining the federal government $500 every 15 minutes, the maximum charge allowed, until it removes an unpermitted fence


Fencing around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse has become a flash point as protesters work to dismantle it and federal officers respond with force.

Photo/Dave Killen/The Oregonian

By Andrew Theen
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said Tuesday the city is fining the federal government $500 every 15 minutes – the maximum charge allowed -- until it removes an unpermitted fence blocking a bike lane on Southwest Third Avenue.

Eudaly, who oversees the transportation bureau, said the government hasn’t responded to her demand to remove the fence, which surrounds a portion of the federal courthouse. She said the bill is now $192,000 “and counting.”

“We intend to collect,” Eudaly, who is running for reelection, said in a tweeted statement. She also described the forces at the courthouse as “federal occupiers.”

The fence has become the centerpiece of nightly protests as the months-long marches and demonstrations devoted to racial justice and curbing police excesses escalated in recent days with the arrival of federal law enforcement teams staged at the courthouse.

The charges come as the Trump administration formally announced Monday it would send additional federal officers to Portland. That same day, Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty called for a “cease-fire” amid the ongoing crisis.

Eudaly said that transportation crews would normally “remove such an obstruction,” but she would not “send workers into harm’s way” to do so.

“Yes, I am afraid to direct workers to do their job and enforce our laws against the federal government—I hope that gives everyone reading this pause,” she said.

Last week, Eudaly’s transportation bureau issued a cease-and-desist letter to the federal government. She said Tuesday that she’s received no response from federal officials.

According to the bureau’s rules, it can assess a $500 fee for obstructing the public right of way without a permit and levy that charge every 15 minutes, hourly, daily, weekly or monthly.

Eudaly said she opted for the maximum fine.

Eudaly said she is also investigating “other legal remedies.”

©2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)