On Saturday evening, two groups of antifa and Black Lives Matter rioters terrorized Portland, squaring off against police and federal troops. One group attacked the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct and the Portland Police Association (PPA) — the police union — while the other group targeted the federal courthouse and Justice Center, returning to set yet another bonfire at the ruins of the elk statue nearby. Antifa broke into the PPA and set it on fire. Before the violence began on this 51st day of unrest in Portland, Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland) decided to hamstring federal troops, aiming to prevent local law enforcement from teaming up with them.
According to a police report, an angry crowd first marched to the Portland Police North Precinct at around 8:35 p.m., blocking the streets as they went. “Some people tampered with gates, broke patrol vehicle windows, and vandalized patrol vehicles. People taunted officers as they arrived to work,” the police reported. The crowd blocked streets around the precinct.
At around 9:27 p.m., the police directed people to leave to the west. The crowd walked to the PPA offices, arriving at about 10:31 p.m. The antifa rioters broke into the front doors while others blocked a nearby street with dumpsters that they lit on fire. “Many in the crowd wore helmets and carried clubs and shields.”
At about 10:45 p.m., antifa rioters broke into the PPA office and ignited a fire inside. When the police arrived, many of the rioters began to flee to the east. Portland Police declared a riot and urged the crowd to move east. As the crowd dispersed, police arrested several rioters and extinguished the fire.
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The northern group of rioters had not finished their violence for the evening, however. Antifa regrouped and the police arrived to attempt to restore order. As police arrived, rioters threw rocks and launched paint-filled balloons at officers. According to the police report, the antifa rioters also shot gopher gassers at police — toxic gases designed to kill gophers and ground squirrels. This onslaught injured some police officers.
Finally, at around 11:30 p.m., officers broke up the crowd into small groups, and order was restored.
Meanwhile, another group of antifa rioters targeted the Justice Center and the federal courthouse. They tore down fences around Chapman Square Park and Lownsdale Square Park — where antifa had temporarily set up an “autonomous zone” last week. Police broke up that encampment and closed down the parks for repair.
Rioters also removed fencing around the federal courthouse and used to to barricade the doors. Others used fencing to block the doors of the Justice Center.
Andy Ngo, editor-at-large of The Post Millennial, shared a video from the Daily Caller’s Shelby Talcott. “Antifa seek violent confrontation w/law enforcement,” he tweeted. “When they get it, biased media & politicians say police incited violence.”
The rioters focused its energy around the courthouse and federal law enforcement came out to address the crowd.
Nearby, rioters lit a bonfire in the ruins of the elk statue base and a few other small garbage can and street fires.
As rioters began the nightly terrorizing of Portland, Mayor Wheeler announced that he had moved to hamstring federal troops. “Earlier today I directed that staff who are part of federal agency operations are no longer allowed to co-locate with the police bureau’s incident command. While sharing a space helped facilitate clear communication, based on recent actions by federal law enforcement officers I am not comfortable having them in our space,” he tweeted.
Self-described protesters have alleged that federal troops are snatching them up without announcing their status as law enforcement officers and without probable cause. Oregon’s U.S. Attorney directed an investigation into the allegations. While some of the claims are troubling, many Democrats have made a federal case out of the alleged misconduct while essentially turning a blind eye to the violence of antifa.
Wheeler claimed that the “heavy-handed tactics” of federal law enforcement have made the situation worse.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) demonized federal law enforcement as Trump’s “secret police” and an “occupying army,” claiming that the federal troops “provoke violence on the streets of my hometown.”
“DHS and DOJ are engaged in acts that are horrific and outrageous in our constitutional democratic republic. First, they are deploying paramilitary forces with no identification indicating who they are or who they work for,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) alleged. “Second, these agents are snatching people off the street with no underlying justification. Both of these acts are profound offenses against Americans. We demand not only that these acts end, but also that they remove their forces immediately from our state.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D-Oregon) filed lawsuits aiming to stop the federal troops, claiming they violated the rights of “peaceful protesters.”
Americans are innocent until proven guilty, and criminals deserve due process. However, the horrific violence on the streets of Portland requires a strong response — a response it seems Wheeler is unwilling to provide. President Donald Trump sent troops in order to restore law and order. Demonizing the president’s response does not help bring peace to the streets of Portland.
The events of Saturday night again demonstrate that the violence is real, and that Democrats should not just scapegoat federal troops for it.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.