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Portland Rioters Set County Seat Building On Fire

Portland, OR – The 83rd consecutive night of rioting in Portland on Tuesday was marked by a mob setting fire to the Multnomah Building, which is the seat of the county’s government.

It was the first time rioters targeted the county building, The Oregonian reported.

Hundreds of people gathered at Colonel Summers Park near the intersection of Belmont Street and Southeast 20th Avenue at approximately 8 p.m. for what protest organizers described as a “direct action march,” according to the paper.

About an hour later, the crowd blocked traffic as they made their way to the Multnomah Building on Hawthorne Boulevard, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a press release.

Many of the rioters were wearing gas masks and helmets and carried shields, according to police.

They blocked traffic on Southeast Grand Avenue and Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard as they converged on the county building and began covering it with graffiti, the PPB said.

A large dumpster fire was ignited in the middle of the street at approximately 10 p.m.

“Another fire was started in a dumpster and the dumpster was then rolled towards the southwest side of the Multnomah Building by members of the group,” according to the PPB.

Meanwhile, other rioters ignited additional small fires as the mob smashed out the building’s windows using large rocks.

Members of the group tossed “ignited paper” through the broken windows “in an attempt to start a fire,” according to the PPB.

“When this did not work, members of the group began spraying lighter fluid inside of the building,” the press release read. “After spraying lighter fluid inside of the building, someone in the crowd threw a large burning object inside of the building. This action created a fire big enough to set the fire alarms and sprinkler system off inside of the building.”

PPB declared a riot and repeatedly ordered the mob to disperse or they would be subjected to crowd control munitions, tear gas and impact weapons.

The rioters ignored them and remained outside the building.

Police were pelted with various projectiles as they began dispersing the crowd at 10:32 p.m., according to the press release.

The group returned about an hour later, at which point police reminded them that “a riot had been declared” and dispersed them once again.

One officer suffered minor injuries during the effort to drive the mob away.

“This is the heart of our County, where people in our community come to get married, get their passports, and celebrate their cultural traditions and diversity,” Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in a statement at approximately 12 a.m., according to The Oregonian.

“The lobby where the first same-sex marriage in Oregon took place, and where millions of pieces of personal protective equipment are being distributed to help our community battle COVID-19, was damaged,” Kafoury said.

She asked the community to work together, and reminded citizens that the county building has long been dedicated to helping people who have been “marginalized by the traditional political process,” The Oregonian reported.

“I acknowledge that there is grave injustice in our world and there is a violent and tragic history of oppression in our County,” Kafoury added. “I am committed to transformational change.”

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said that the attack on the Multnomah was completely without cause, KGW reported.

“The unprovoked actions by those who engaged in criminal behavior is reprehensible,” Sheriff Reese said. “It is simply violence and serves no legitimate purpose. It does nothing to solve the issues our community faces.”

Police arrested two rioters before the group left the area at approximately 12:30 a.m., according to the PPB.

The crowd paraded through residential neighborhoods on their way back to Colonel Summers Park, yelling for citizens to get out of bed to come march with them, The Oregonian reported.

Jesse Hawk, 23, was arrested on charges of resisting arrest, interfering with a peace officer, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of assaulting a public safety officer, two counts of harassment, attempted escape, and disorderly conduct, according to the PPB.

Peter Curtis, 40, was arrested on charges of reckless endangering and attempted criminal mischief.

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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