At least seven people have been arrested and are facing federal charges for their roles in weekend riots at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland. U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said the seven are mostly from Oregon — primarily, Portland.
He said the almost-daily protests of police violence that have been held throughout Portland since May 26 have been “regularly” followed by criminal activity each night, including assaults on law enforcement officers, destruction of property, looting, arson and vandalism.
In the past several nights, federal officers stationed at the courthouse have been assaulted with bottles, rocks, commercial-grade fireworks, and improvised explosives, Williams said.
“The lawless and violent acts of extremists across the political spectrum cannot continue,” Williams said in a press statement. “Violence directed at federal, state, and local law enforcement and property destruction is inconsistent with the aims of social justice.”
Rowan Olsen, 19, of Portland, is charged with disorderly conduct, creating a hazard on federal property, and failing to obey a lawful order; Shant Singh Ahuja, 28, of Oceanside, California, is charged with destruction of federal property; and Andrew Steven Faulkner, 24, of Beaverton, Gretchen Margaret Blank, 29, of Seattle, Christopher Fellini, 31, of Portland, Cody Porter, 28, of Portland, and Taimane Jame Teo, 24, of Eugene, Oregon, are charged with assaulting federal officers.
County deputies, Portland police and other state and local law enforcement have also been injured in what officials termed “nightly riots” that have occurred at the Multnomah County Justice Center (which is next to the federal courthouse) and throughout downtown Portland.
The photo accompanying this story, courtesy the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, reportedly depicts illegal fireworks being thrown at officers near the Elk in downtown Portland — which was subsequently removed after protesters defaced and lit around it.
“The assault on the Justice Center continues nightly. Individuals have thrown and launched projectiles at police, including improvised explosives, bricks, rocks, commercial fireworks and metal ball bearings,” the MCSO said on Facebook. “This is a life safety issue for our first responders and protesters themselves. Multiple deputies and officers have been injured.”
For their part, the Portland Police Bureau and other law enforcement in that city have come increasingly under fire for their own use of force against protesters, including deploying tear gas and what the ACLU has called other “militarized tactics.” Professional and citizen journalists have captured many such scenes in recent weeks.
— Cozcacuahutli Itzpapalotl (@KohzKah) July 3, 2020
“They are shooting first,” one Canby High graduate who now lives in Portland said of the Portland Police Bureau. “Many have lost vision, hearing and their reporting equipment due to the PPB, and now, the feds.”
The sheriff’s office continues to support the people’s right to peacefully protest, the MCSO’s July 7 post said, and it is not deaf to their demand for change.
“Over the last several weeks, Sheriff [Michael] Reese has participated in marches against oppression and racism, and continues to meet with community members and leaders to have an open and honest dialogue about the change that is needed in our community,” the post said. “We are listening to concerns and ideas on how together, we can build a safe, equitable and accountable public safety system.”
But “nightly rioting, arson and violence must come to an end,” Sheriff Reese said. “It does not solve the issues our community faces. The criminal activity around the Justice Center detracts from the calls for systemic changes the community deserves.”
An Oregon man, Eric Post, raised an American flag at the former site of the Elk statue this week, calling for an end to the riots and violence and destruction. “We’ve had enough,” he was quoted as saying.
The flag was subsequently burned.
"I believe that police brutality, and oppression and abuse of any kind is 100% wrong. What I also believe is wrong is indiscriminately attacking police, is indiscriminately burning my city, our city … and I’m not alone," Post said.
Photo: Post holding charred remains of flag pic.twitter.com/7sW9q9jZfl
— Hannah Ray Lambert (@TheHannahRay) July 6, 2020