Portland protest violence continues as Trump sends federal agents to other cities

Federal authorities say their officials are being sent to cities to curb illegal gun sales and other federal crimes. The operation is separate from the one in Portland but concerns of violence remain.
7:48 | 07/24/20

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Transcript for Portland protest violence continues as Trump sends federal agents to other cities
For more than 55 days, protesters have taken to the streets in Portland in often violent clashes. A judge has entered a temporary restraining order barring journalists from being removed from the protests. Here's kayna Whitworth. Reporter: In Portland, a mostly white city, and these mostly-white protesters, and these black mothers, hope that protesters aren't just here to raise their own voices. They hope they're willing to listen to others. We've still got some ways to we realized through our protest on Monday and especially tonight that we still have a big journey ahead of us, and we really need some black leaders in that wall of moms group. Reporter: Here clashes have raged for days. They increasingly look like a war zone. Moms are here! Reporter: And it's the mothers showing up to form walls on the front lines. Protesting police brutality and systemic racism. I feel like I've been protesting all the way back to trayvon martin, where I protested in Washington, D.C., you know, when I was in Colorado, I protested black lives matter there. And here I am, you know, in my third state, still protesting yet again, 12-something years later. Reporter: What do you want people to know? I want people to know that racism is still very much a real thing. Down to my 6-year-old having to deal with it at school on a daily basis, so yeah, I want people to come out here and support us. Reporter: Overnight, thousands gathering behind them. Many criticizing the use of force isn't by president trump. Now they're shooting gas into the crowd. Reporter: One of those buildings, this courthouse, has become a nightly rallying point for the standoff between protesters and those agents. I actually want to see this. Reporter: Even Portland mayor wheeler seen caught in tear gas after joining the protests himself, telling the "New York Times" that he saw nothing to provoke that kind of response. This is an egregious overreaction on the part of the federal officers. This is not a deescalation strategy. This is flat-out urban warfare. Reporter: Agents, though, issuing several warnings after protesters breached the wall around the courthouse. They were lighting fireworks and several small fires outside the building. And, in an endless cycle of aggression, as the protests grow, agents have responded with increasing force. You see people running. You can see people running from the tear gas. But that was a firework set off by protesters. Authorities have heavily gassed this whole area. We're all choking on it. Reporter: Since Sunday, these parents have put their bodies on the line to protect the right to their ranks, seeming to grow every night. Seeing this large crowd here in Portland, Oregon, it gives me hope as a black mother and for my children. Reporter: For nearly two months, Portland has seen sustained unrest stemming from the killing of George Floyd but focussed on police brutality and racial injustice locally, but in the last month, the presence of federal agents has only inflamed tensions, and the president seems to be doubling down. People were out of control for 51 days, long time. And homeland security and other law enforcement with us went in, and they've done a great job. Reporter: Today the department of homeland security telling ABC news that they're sending a customs and border protection tactical unit to Seattle, a similar one captured in Portland, it was tweeted by Jeff Merkley. What's going on here? It's the government miscasting protesters as violent criminals and trying to scare people from going out and protesting police brutality. Reporter: Now concerns are growing that clashes between protesters and federal agents could be seen nationwide as president trump authorizes federal operations in other cities. Yeah, the cities, unfortunately, that are in trouble are all run by Democrats. You have radical left Democrats running cities like Chicago and so many others that we just had a news conference, and unfortunately, that's the way it is. Reporter: Calling it operation legend, the administration wants to send agents from the FBI, Dea and ATF into city, it says to help curb illegal gun sales and other federal crimes, but the violence in Portland is casting skepticism on how this operation will actually be carried out. In cities like Chicago the mayor has made it clear that those efforts which she calls political will not include unmarked troops on her streets. So they're not federal troops, they're FBI, Dea, ATF, and they will be plugged in to the existing infrastructure. I'm glad to see that the president got the message. I'm glad to see that he realized what he did in Portland was a grave abuse of his presidential power. Reporter: Amidst growing calls to curb federal agents' actions, the inspector general's office announced investigations into the federal response this weekend and in Lafayette park on June 1st. Protests here have gone on for nearly 60 straight days. Citizen journalists like Alyssa Azar is with a collective of citizen journalists who have documented the growing outrage from the beginning. Why are you pushing? No, no! I'm moving. I'm moving. The tactics that they're using every day just are bringing the protesters back in bigger groups every night, and just a lot angrier, you know? We're seeing that with even seemingly as innocent as putting up the fence. We see what that does every single night. I feel like what they're doing is really enraging people more than anything. Reporter: She worries if tensions don't subside things could get much worse. Like the only thing that could happen next that will take it to the next level is for an officer, federal or, you know, Portland police to fire a live round. We've already seen those being pointed and pulled from hollisters at least on two different occasions. That's a fear for a lot of people, and if that happens I can't even imagine the reaction that's, that's going to be had. There's already so much anger. Reporter: For many protesters, these clashes between law enforcement bring into clear focus why they came out at first and why they continue night after night. She started the wall of moms. The group really organized itself. These women mobilized themselves to protect protesters. We're not throwing water bottles. We're screaming leave our kids Reporter: Do you want to say anything about standing out here tonight? It's empowering. It's empowering to see the numbers out here, especially being new to Portland and seeing the, especially the white alliship. Let's be honest. Everybody's out here for the long haul, and it's empowering. It gives me hope. Our thanks to kayna.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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