Violence, Looting, Arson in Portland as Demonstrators Burn the City in Protest

Federal officers use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Noah Berger/AP Photo

Portland experienced another night of violence, looting, and widespread arson as demonstrators took to the streets, attempting to break into the federal courthouse and lighting several fires throughout the city, prompting a response from federal law enforcement.

Protesters gathered downtown late Monday night and targeted the Federal Courthouse and Justice Center, vandalizing the buildings and attempting to break into them. According to a statement from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), demonstrators “tampered with and climbed on the gate leading under the Justice Center and pounded on plywood on the exterior of the building” and “behaved similarly at the Federal Courthouse.”

Police said protesters, who were equipped with hammers, crowbars, hammers, shields, helmets, gas masks, “and other pry tools,” pounded on the courthouse and broke the plywood covering one side of the building. They successfully broke through the plywood after midnight and broke “at least one window”:

Demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at federal officers, who attempted to disperse the crowd around 12:38 a.m. Protesters continued engaging in acts of lawlessness well into the early hours of Tuesday morning, throwing several objects, including “glass and plastic bottles, wood, pieces of metal, rocks and other debris” at the courthouse and lighting fires nearby:

As the PPB detailed:

At about 2:24 a.m. people lit a fire near a door on the SW Salmon Street side of the courthouse. Federal law enforcement put it out. At 2:29 a.m. people poured an accelerant on the plywood over the door on the front of the courthouse and ignited it. Federal officers dispersed the crowd using various munitions.

At 2:45 a.m. several dozen people blocked off SW Salmon Street at SW 5th Avenue with fencing and an assortment of other material stolen from nearby properties. People continued to light fires downtown including a fire on the awning and side of a building, at SW 4th Avenue and SW Yamhill Street, which required Portland Fire & Rescue to respond. At about 3:00 a.m. another fire was burning in the middle of the sidewalk north side of the County Courthouse, which required Portland Fire & Rescue response. Before they arrived people continually added flammable material to it causing it to grow and burn against the building. Portland Police responded to provide security for firefighters.

According to the PPB, one individual hurled a glass bottle at the officers, who were near the courthouse providing security to firefighters.

Authorities also received a call after 3 a.m. of a jewelry store break-in.

“Portland Police responded and found the windows broken out and could see that valuables had been removed. Officers searched the area for the suspects. A vehicle fled the scene as officers investigated,” the PPB reported, adding that a caller “reported that windows at City Hall were broken out”:

The PPB affirmed that its officers made no arrests.

President Trump has defended the presence of federal law enforcement in the city and has teased sending more to other progressive cities experiencing waves of violence and unrest.

“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE,” Trump said on Sunday.

“These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!” he added:

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) has soured at the federal government’s intervention, claiming that the involvement is “making the situation much more dangerous.”

He recently signed a letter with the mayors of Atlanta, Chicago, D.C., Seattle, and Kansas City against federal intervention in their cities.

“The President is attacking progressive cities with a classic ‘divide and conquer’ tactic,” Wheeler said.

“We must not fall prey to this. Nationwide, we must stand together for peace and for reform against those who would oppose it,” he added.

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