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Portland Rioters Burn Police Union Building, Barricade People Inside Justice Center

Portland, OR – Rioters attacked law enforcement officers, barricaded the doors of the Multnomah County Justice Center to keep people inside, and set the Portland Police Association building on fire during another chaotic weekend in Portland.

Hundreds of people converged in the area of the now-dismantled Chinook Land Autonomous Territory (CLAT) and the Multnomah County Justice Center on Friday evening, the Portland Police Bureau said in a press release.

Workers had installed fences around the former CLAT “autonomous zone” at Lownsdale Square Park, which have repeatedly been torn down by rioters since they were erected.

Just before 10 p.m. on July 17, the mob dragged sections of the chain-link fence to the Justice Center and used it to barricade the doors, security footage showed.

“Police gave announcements from the sound truck, warning people to stop barricading important exits from the building,” PPB said. “People kept barricading exits with pieces of the fence at the Justice Center for several hours, including the barricading of exit doors around the Federal Courthouse.”

Members of the crowd cheered the rioters on as they trapped people inside the buildings.

“Portland Police gave announcements from the sound truck to stop barricading the doors but people continued to do it,” according to the release.

The group began “shooting commercial grade fireworks and smoke bombs” at the Justice Center at approximately 12:30 a.m., police said.

They used additional sections of fencing to block traffic on Madison Street.

“County and federal law enforcement officers occasionally exited their respective buildings under their own supervision and direction to clear doorways to their buildings,” PPB said in another press release. “When they did, they were subject to projectiles such as rocks, bottles, pieces of metal and other thrown objects. People in the crowd fired commercial-grade fireworks at them.”

PPB didn’t declare the gathering to be an unlawful assembly until 1:33 a.m., when they determined the rioters’ behavior posed a “threat of life safety to people including those inside of the Justice Center and Federal buildings,” according to the press release.

Most of the rioters ignored directives to disperse, resulting in several arrests being made.

“While dispersing the crowd, officers took projectiles such as glass bottles, rocks and broken pieces of metal from fencing,” PPB said. “After dispersing the crowd to the west, officers disengaged.”

But as soon as police retreated, several hundred rioters returned to the closed-off area, resulting in another round of altercations and arrests.

One PPB officer suffered minor injuries during the mayhem on Friday night, police said.

Seven people were arrested.

The mobs gathered at multiple locations around the city on Saturday night, according to the PPB.

One group converged on the PPB North Precinct, where hundreds of rioters busted out patrol car windows, vandalized vehicles, “tampered with gates,” and taunted officers arriving to work, police said.

Crowds blocked the streets before eventually making their way to the Portland Police Association (PPA) building at North Campbell Avenue and North Lombard Street at approximately 10:30 p.m.

Within 15 minutes, they busted through the front doors of the PPA building and “ignited a fire inside,” police said.

Rioters shoved dumpsters against at least one set of doors to the building, barricading it from the outside, and set them on fire as well.

Officers responded to the scene and ordered the violent mob to disperse.

The blaze was extinguished and several rioters were arrested, PPB said.

The crowd reconvened on North Interstate Avenue, and proceeded to pelt officers with paint-filled balloons, rocks, and “gopher gassers,” PPB said.

Multiple officers were injured during the attacks.

Meanwhile, another crowd down by Lownsdale Square ripped down the fencing yet again and used it to barricade the federal courthouse and Justice Center as they had done the night prior.

They also lit a bonfire in the “ruins” of the historic Thompson Elk Statue, PPB said.

A group of helmet and gas mask-wearing rioters tore down the fence around the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse on Sunday night and stormed up to the doors armed with hockey sticks, bats, umbrellas, and shields, PPB said in another press release.

Federal officers soon dispersed the mob.

“Over the next two hours hundreds of people wandered around downtown Portland many regrouping on SW 3rd Avenue in front of the courthouse, in the adjacent parks and around the Justice Center,” PPB said.

They built another bonfire in the portico area of the federal courthouse just after 1:30 a.m., which was extinguished by a federal officer approximately 10 minutes later.

PPB said its officers “did not engage with any crowds” on Sunday night.

The riots have been a nightly occurrence in Portland for the past seven weeks.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Interim Secretary Chad Wolf traveled to the city to meet with other federal law enforcement leaders on July 16, The Oregonian reported.

Earlier in the day, Wolf released a statement blasting local Portland political leaders for refusing to “restore order and protect their city.”

“Each night, lawless anarchists destroy and desecrate property, including the federal courthouse, and attack the brave law enforcement officers protecting it,” Wolf said. “Instead of addressing violent criminals in their communities, local and state leaders are instead focusing on placing blame on law enforcement and requesting fewer officers in their community. This failed response has only emboldened the violent mob as it escalates violence day after day.”

The DHS secretary said that the attacks on federal buildings will not be tolerated.

“A federal courthouse is a symbol of justice – to attack it is to attack America… DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them,” he wrote. “This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law.”

Wolf again reiterated DHS’s offer to help assist local and state leaders “to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Oregon Governor Kate Brown both said they will not meet with Wolf, The Oregonian reported.

“This political theater from President Trump has nothing to do with public safety,” Brown declared, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. “The President is failing to lead this nation. Now he is deploying federal officers to patrol the streets of Portland in a blatant abuse of power by the federal government.”

Wheeler denounced the federal officers’ presence in city on July 14.

“The best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether,” Wheeler declared. “Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely.”

“I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use,” the mayor added. “We do not need or want their help.”

Critics have become even more vocal about the federal officers’ presence in the city after a demonstrator was hit in the head and critically injured by a less-lethal projectile fired by a federal officer on July 11, the Washington Post reported.

The force of the impact allegedly fractured the protester’s skull.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, protesters have further accused federal officers of detaining people who were not on federal property.

The news outlet alleged that federal officers have been riding around the city in unmarked vehicles detaining random people since at least July 14.

“People are being literally scooped off the street into unmarked vans, rental cars,” Wheeler told CNN on Sunday. “Apparently, they are being denied probable cause, and they’re denied due process. They don’t even know who’s pulling them into the vans.”

Wheeler accused federal officers of “sharply escalating the situation,” and claimed their presence in the city has led to “more violence and more vandalism.”

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan said that mobs have shown up outside federal buildings armed with hammers, rocks, and pieces of plywood with nails sticking out of them.

“Those are criminals, those are not protesters,” Commissioner Morgan told FOX News on July 16. “These are individuals that are planning, organizing with premeditation to destroy federal property and harm federal officers and agents.”

“They are coming every single night for the past two weeks armed with weapons,” he said. “They’ve attacked the building and intentionally harmed law enforcement officers.”

President Trump said on Sunday that local lawmakers’ inaction left the federal government with no choice but to intervene.

“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” he tweeted. “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. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum filed a lawsuit against DHS in federal court on Friday, asking a judge to rule that the federal officers’ actions are against the law, CNN reported.

Rosenblum has also asked the court to require federal officers to identify themselves and the agency they work for before they can detain anyone within the state of Oregon, and demanded that they be banned from arresting rioters without a warrant or probable cause.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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