By Sandy Malone and Holly Matkin
Washington, DC – U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called the violence and riots in Portland a “myth” on Sunday just hours after violent protesters breached the federal courthouse in that city.
And independent journalist approached the House Judiciary Committee chairman as he was walking to his car on July 26 and asked the ranking Democratic member if he would disavow the violent rioting in Portland, the New York Post reported.
“That’s a myth that’s being spread only in Washington, DC,” Nadler said in the video as he began to walk away.
The reporters asked him about the videos of the fires and destruction being wrought by the protesters but Nadler kept his back to the camera as he got into his waiting car, the New York Post reported.
I ran into Jerry Nadler in DC and asked him to disavow the Antifa violence/rioting in Portland.
“THATS A MYTH” pic.twitter.com/veImyE2rju
— Essential Fleccas 🇺🇸 (@fleccas) July 27, 2020
Police said that at least 26 people were arrested in Portland early Sunday morning after rioters breached the federal courthouse that federal agents were protecting.
Rioters also shot fireworks at officers and police responded with tear gas, the New York Post reported.
The Portland Police Bureau released a statement that said the violent crowd had attached a chain to the fence around the courthouse and tried to pull it down just after 1 a.m. on July 26.
“Throughout the night some people in this crowd spent their time shaking the fence around the building, throwing rocks, bottles, and assorted debris over the fence, shining lasers through the fence, firing explosive fireworks into the area blocked by the fence, and using power tools to try to cut through the fence,” the statement read.
“People wore gas masks, carried shields, hockey sticks, leaf blowers, flags, and umbrellas specifically to thwart police in crowd dispersal or attempt to conceal criminal acts,” the police statement continued. “People against the fence sprayed unknown liquids through it toward the courthouse. People tied rope to the fence and attempted to pull it down.”
Police said rioters were also setting fires in the streets on the 60th night in a row of rioting in Portland, the New York Post reported.
“People climbed over the fence to get close to the federal courthouse. People continued to launch mortar style fireworks at ground level that were exploding near others,” the Portland police said.
Violent Anarchists Set Fires at Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse pic.twitter.com/yjdXgWwQvB
— Brandon Farley • Portland Protest Reporter (@FarleyMedia) July 21, 2020
The police department said “dozens of people in the crowd maintained this level of violence and tumultuous conduct and were either intentionally or recklessly creating a grave risk of public alarm,” according to the New York Post.
Nadler recently co-signed a letter condemning President Donald Trump’s decision to send federal agents to Portland to protect federal property.
The letter called for an investigation by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, the New York Post reported.
The City of Portland has threatened to slap the federal government with “fines and potential legal action” if they refuse to remove the protective fencing surrounding a downtown federal courthouse.
The Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse has come under attack on a nightly basis over the course of the past two months.
Rioters have repeatedly fired mortars and other projectiles at federal officers, sprayed the building with graffiti, broken windows, attempted to barricade exits, and ignited fires inside and outside of the building during overnight attacks.
Portland business owners have further reported a staggering $23 million in losses due to rioting and looting in the downtown area, FOX News reported.
Although the fence has provided federal officers with some level of protection, rioters have incessantly attempted to tear it down.
One such effort took place on July 22, just feet away from where Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler stood in solidarity with the rioters, video footage showed.
Hours after it was initially erected on July 18, rioters dismantled the fence and stacked the sections up in front of the courthouse doors, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
Contractors later returned to rebuild the fence, then reinforced it with concrete barriers.
— David Douglas (@DavidDouglasTV) July 24, 2020
But instead of holding rioters accountable for the mayhem, city leaders have instead targeted the federal government.
In a letter to the U.S. General Services Administration on July 23, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Chris Warner declared that the protective fence around the federal courthouse is illegal.
“Unidentified contractors have installed fencing and concrete barriers illegally in the City of Portland’s Right of Way on the streets surrounding the Hatfield Courthouse in downtown Portland,” Warner wrote.
“The structures are both unpermitted and represent a hazard to the traveling public, particularly along SW Main, which is a major bicycle corridor into the central business district,” the transportation director said. “The structure completely obstructs the bike lane and needs to be removed promptly.”
Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly said that the fence is “an abuse of public space and a threat to the traveling public,” Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
“This illegal action will not be tolerated in our community,” Eudaly added.
Hours after Warner’s letter went out, over 1,000 rioters gathered outside the federal courthouse, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a press release.
In addition to setting fires inside the protective fence, “several other people were seen shaking the fence, launching projectiles over the fence, and using different tools to try and dissemble the fence,” police said.
After the barrier was breached, federal officers exited the building to disperse the mob.
“As Federal Police Officers dispersed the group they were hit with large projectiles, various incendiaries, and flashed with lasers,” the PPB said.
A mob of “a couple hundred people” returned to the area by approximately 1 a.m., and proceeded to set more fires, launch commercial grade fireworks at officer and “cut and breach” the fence, police said.