Eighteen people have been arrested and face federal charges in connection to ongoing riots in the Democrat-controlled city of Portland, Oregon, the Department of Justice announced Friday afternoon.
The arrests, which began on Monday, stemmed from rioters’ alleged roles in attacking Portland’s federal courthouse.
“U.S. Marshals Service deputies and officers from the Federal Protective Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection working to protect the courthouse have been subjected to nightly threats and assaults from demonstrators while performing their duties,” U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said in a statement.
The following individuals were arrested in Portland (via KGW8):
All 18 defendants made their first appearances in federal court and were ordered released pending jury trials or other court proceedings, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Protesters descended on downtown Portland in late May to demonstrate against the death of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis.
The DOJ’s announcement comes after rioters in Portland barricaded federal law enforcement agents inside the courthouse as they attempted to light the building on fire.
“Around midnight rioters attempted to set the courthouse on fire, as they have done numerous times before. They also threw smoke bombs into the flames causing the interior of the courthouse to fill with smoke,” a Department of Homeland Security official wrote in an email obtained by the Washington Examiner. “In response, a team of federal officers was forced to leave the building, taking one individual into custody. When they did, a rioter threw a bag filled with hard objects at officers.”
On Wednesday night, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) joined protesters and garnered booes and was hit with tear gas by federal officers. Wheeler, flanked by the police commissioner, said he would attend the protest in solidarity against federal law enforcement. “The reason I am here tonight is to stand with you,” the mayor said, as quoted by The Oregonian. “If they’re launching the tear gas against you, they’re launching the tear gas against me.” While addressing protesters, Wheeler decried President Trump’s crackdown on rioters an “egregious overreaction” and accused him of engaging in “urban warfare.”
This week, Wheeler joined the mayors of Atlanta, Chicago, D.C., Seattle, and Kansas City in demanding the Trump administration to remove federal officers directed to fight surging crime. The Portland mayor accused the president of “attacking progressive cities with a classic ‘divide and conquer’ tactics.”
On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he would expand the Justice Department program known as Operation Legend to Chicago as the Democrat-controlled city suffers from a crime wave.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after more than a dozen people were injured in a shooting at a funeral in Chicago on Tuesday night.
Trump on Wednesday said he had “no choice but to get involved” by sending federal officers to the cities.
“This bloodshed must end,” he said. “This bloodshed will end.”
On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted that she would push back against efforts to send federal officers to the city.
The UPI contributed to this report.