Portland Demonstrators Attack Federal Courthouse on Day 55 of Violent Protests

Federal officers disperse Black Lives Matter protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Noah Berger/AP Photo

Demonstrators in Portland took to the streets on the 55th night of protests in the city, attacking the federal courthouse yet again, vandalizing federal and private property, and setting several fires throughout the city.

Over 1,000 protesters gathered in downtown Portland Tuesday evening for another night of violent demonstrations, setting their sights on the Federal Courthouse, Justice Center, and Central Precinct. According to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), several protesters equipped with bats, shields, and gas masks “kicked and pounded on plywood attached to the west exterior glass doors of the Federal Courthouse” around 11 p.m. using various tools. They ultimately breached the west side doors of the building, prompting a response from federal law enforcement:

A crowd regathered after midnight at the Federal Courthouse and “set a fire outside the west side doors located on the portico,” forcing federal law enforcement to respond again. According to the PPB, demonstrators began to stack barricades and sections of fence outside the building, “which created a hazard to those who needed to exit the building”:

Per the PPB:

Around 1:00 a.m., some people associated with the group opened a fire hydrant at Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Taylor Street and added soap to the water causing a hazard downtown. Some other people downtown set several small fires while other people vandalized and spray painted both city, federal, and private property. At 1:27 a.m., another fire was lit outside an exit door on the south side of the Federal Courthouse and the group successfully tore off a large piece of plywood protecting some glass doors on the west side of the building. At 1:45 a.m., Federal Police Officers once again were forced to disperse the crowd west from the building. During the dispersal, a large fire was started in the middle of Lownsdale Square.

Portland Police did not respond to any of the incidents and made no arrests.

Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has defended the presence of federal law enforcement in the city.

“If you did your job from a local perspective, we wouldn’t be there,” he said Tuesday. “What we have in Portland is very different than what we have in any other city.”

Despite that, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) has remained obstinate. He continues to contend that civil unrest in Portland was subsiding prior to the arrival of federal law enforcement.

“The violence was being contained and started to de-escalate before they arrived. They intervened and escalated tensions to new levels,” he said in a statement.

“We didn’t ask for these troops in our cities. We don’t want these troops in our cities,” he reiterated Tuesday evening:


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