Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, issued a statement ahead of what is expected to be a weekend of clashing protests in Portland, vowing that “there will be consequences for acts of violence.”
Dueling protests are expected to take place in Portland on Saturday. The Proud Boys, a right-wing fraternal group whose members identify themselves as “Western chauvinists,” were denied a permit to gather in the city’s Delta Park. However, clashes are still expected, prompting Gov. Kate Brown (D), who has blamed violence in her city on “right-wing vigilantes” and “armed white supremacists,” to declare a state of emergency in Portland.
However, Williams said in his statement that there has been “nothing civil, respectful, or positive about the nightly violent and destructive protests in Portland, Oregon.”
“On many nights, after peaceful demonstrations end, violent agitators have physically attacked police officers and firefighters, damaged buildings, and repeatedly attempted to set public buildings on fire. These agitators include not just local residents but people who have travelled from out of state,” he continued, detailing the violence that has unfolded in the city over the recent weeks — from agitators shooting a firefighter “in the chest with a steel ball bearing launched from an arm-mounted slingshot” to a man punching a female police officer:
On several occasions in August, demonstrations were held during the day where groups with opposing ideologies clashed and engaged in physical violence against one another. Following one of these political rallies, a man was shot and killed. Most recently, acts of violence towards law enforcement and first responders include a Portland firefighter being shot in the chest with a steel ball bearing launched from an arm-mounted slingshot, a man dousing several police officers with high-powered bear deterrent spray, a man punching a female police officer in the face, and a woman striking a police officer in the head from behind with a wooden shield.
The ongoing violence, he said, is “destroying the fabric of a city and a state that we love.”
Williams said the media’s coverage has drawn even more out of state agitators to the area as they gear up for Saturday’s demonstrations “where numerous groups with opposing ideologies are gathering in the Portland area.”
“Local residents and anyone traveling to Portland with the intent to commit violence are on notice,” he said, promising “consequences for acts of violence.”
Those who indulge in brazen criminal behavior will be “investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” Williams vowed.
“Already more than 100 people have been arrested and more than 80 people are facing federal charges related to protest violence,” he continued.
“Our office will work closely with our law enforcement partners, including the FBI, to monitor criminal activity, and will bring federal charges where appropriate,” he added.