PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A former freelance journalist from Portland is now facing federal charges in addition to the state charges he already faced.
For the federal charges, Michael E. Bivins is accused of damaging three religious institutions in Portland and intimidating the Black owner of a Portland business by breaking a window at the business.
The crimes he’s accused of all occurred in 2022.
According to the federal information court document, Bivins is suspected of using an accelerant to light the Muslim Community Center of Portland on fire on May 3, breaking a window at Shir Tikvah on April 30, and spray painting the exterior of the sanctuary building at Congregation Beth Israel on May 1.
These charges are in addition to the state charges he faces, which include one count of first-degree arson, five counts of first-degree criminal mischief and five counts of second-degree bias crime.
According to court documents, the former freelance journalist who often covered political extremism in Portland had recently become homeless and told police he had been sleeping on the streets most nights when he wasn’t staying at his mother’s house in Tenino.
The senior rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel, Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana, told KOIN 6 News shortly after the vandalism that his congregation was reeling from the attack. Yellow swastikas were spray painted on the synagogue walls, days after the congregation commemorated Holocaust memorial day.
According to Portland Police Bureau data, there were 37 bias crimes reported in 2022. That’s down from 54 that were reported in 2021.
However, in 2022, there were 54 bias incidents reported compared to 41 in 2021.
Bias incidents are cases that “have a bias nexus,” according to PPB, but do not have probable cause to be considered a crime. Bias crimes are cases that meet the requirements of Oregon Senate Bill 577 and the FBI’s criteria for bias crime.