Portland, OR – At least three federal officers may have suffered permanent vision loss as a result of rioters flashing lasers into their eyes during the nightly riots in downtown Portland.
Over 1,000 rioters converged on the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse on Sunday and Monday night and ripped protective plywood coverings off of the building, Federal Protective Service (FPS) Deputy Director of Operations Richard “Kriss” Cline said during a press conference on July 21, according to FOX News.
The “violent anarchists” also tore down the perimeter fencing that had been erected around the building, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in a press release.
The mob attempted to hurl incendiary devices and various other objects through the courthouse windows and into the building, which was occupied by federal officers.
They continued to wreak havoc outside the courthouse – blocking the streets, setting multiple fires, and spray painting the already-heavily graffitied building, FOX News reported.
The “violent anarchists” have repeatedly targeted surveillance cameras in the vicinity of the courthouse, rendering them inoperable, the DHS said.
Federal officers deployed tear gas and pepper balls to drive the mob away, but they “continued their assault,” throwing canned food, rocks, and other projectiles, according to the DHS.
Another wave of rioters attempted to break into the federal courthouse shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday, DHS said.
They tore down more protective plywood, shattering a window in the process.
Rioters launched “a commercial-grade mortar firework” and other incendiary devices at the front doors of the courthouse on at least one occasion during the overnight attacks on Sunday, the DHS said.
“These incendiary fireworks were launched at the courthouse at the same time that rioters had barricaded the front entrance of the Courthouse with sections of the torn down fence, potentially trapping federal officers inside,” according to the DHS.
According to DHS, one rioter was spotted taking photos of the water intake system at the Edith Green Federal Building, which the FPS is also tasked with protecting.
Earlier in the night, someone tweeted about cutting “off the water to the buildings the feds are staying in to make it a nightmare for them,” DHS said.
The officers came under attack again when they emerged from the courthouse to extinguish the multiple fires ignited by the crowd.
“When officers responded to put out these fires, glass bottles were thrown and lasers – which can cause permanent blindness – were shined in their eyes,” Director Cline told reporters, according to FOX News. “We have three officers who currently have eye injuries and they may not recover sight in those eyes from those laser attacks.”
DHS said that the mob aimed “red, green and purple lasers” at the officers’ eyes while members of the crowd “used a strobe light on the building.”
Federal officers will now be issued anti-laser glasses to help protect them from the potential of permanent blindness, FOX News reported.
Three additional federal officers suffered injures as a result of Monday night’s attacks, including one who was struck by a glass bottle, Director Cline said.
Officers arrested five rioters for noncompliance with lawful directions, and two more rioters were arrested for allegedly assaulting federal officers, FOX News reported.
Another federal officer was injured on Saturday night after a rioter with a suspected “wrist rocket” fired a projectile at him, resulting in a laceration to the officer’s leg, the DHS said.
The officer’s injury required sutures.
Rioters also attached a “pyrotechnic” to the federal courthouse door on Saturday night, according to DHS.
The device had the potential to cause a fire inside the building, the DHS said.
The U.S. Marshals Service reported that for the first time since the riots began, they have experienced problems with communications jamming, FOX News reported.
“These individuals are organized, and they have one mission in mind – to burn down or to cause extreme damage to the federal courthouse and to law enforcement officers,” DHS Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“At times, we also see them targeting city property,” Wolf added.
He noted that the rioters congregate in the same area “night after night,” and that officers can see them planning their various attacks.
“And yet, the city of Portland takes little-to-no action to stop or disperse this crowd,” Wolf said. “These individuals carry lasers, baseball bats, explosive fireworks, metal pipes, glass bottles, accelerants, and other weapons – all targeting federal facilities and federal law enforcement – and yet, the city of Portland takes little-to-no action.”