Charlie Baker on the Trump administration’s response in Portland protests

Gov. Charlie Baker suggested Wednesday that he disagreed with President Donald Trump’s decision to send federal agents to respond to protests in Portland, Oregon.

When it comes to his own administration, Baker said the approach to sending Massachusetts state law enforcement resources to support local officials is simple: “We go where we’re invited.”

“We don’t go where we’re not invited,” he added. “I mean, our view is really simple on this.”

The Republican governor, who was asked during a press conference if the Trump administration’s response was appropriate, said that local officials on the ground know “what the best thing and the best policy is for their communities.”

Baker somewhat controversially sent the Massachusetts National Guard into Boston for more than a week after a May 31 protest in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police led to violence and looting. But his office told the The Boston Globe at the time that it was at the request of city officials.

“If people want our help, they are going to get it,” he said.

The case in different in Portland, where the Trump administration has sent militarized agents in camouflage to crack down on ongoing protest and vandalism of federal buildings — over the objections of local officials. The move has led to violent clashes and reports of protesters being pulled from the streets into unmarked cars.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown told PBS NewsHour this week that the protests had been “calming down” before the arrival of the federal agents, whose presence escalated tensions.

Baker said Wednesday that he was “incredibly proud of the fact” that — among 300 demonstrations with more than 100 people and dozens with more than 1,000 in Massachusetts — his state had just “one bad night.” He gave his administration’s approach partial credit.

“For the better part of the past 25 days or so, people have been able to peacefully express and exercise their First Amendment rights in a way that I believe has worked here in Massachusetts,” Baker said. “And I think part of that’s because we only play if we get asked.”

His comments came after Boston Mayor Marty Walsh ripped the Trump’s administration’s response in Portland and amid reports that the Republican president was considering sending agents to other cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Later Wednesday, Trump announced that he was sending agents to Chicago and Albuquerque.

“That behavior and that type of so-called help is not welcome here in the city of Boston,” Walsh, a Democrat, said during a briefing Tuesday.

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