PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Portland saw its 57th consecutive night of protests on Friday, and is expected to see the 58th tonight. During a Saturday briefing with local media, the Assistant US Attorney for the District of Oregon said federal agents won’t be leaving until people stop trying to destroy the courthouse.
Assistant US Attorney Craig Gabriel said, since early July, 60 people have been detained or arrested in relation to protests near the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse. Of those who were arrested, there is prosecution pending against 46 people.
On Friday night, one person was arrested by federal officers on suspicion of failing to comply with a lawful order, however, that person was later released without being charged, according to Gabriel.
“To date, we have seen crimes ranging from assaults on federal officers, arson, willfully damaging or creating hazards on government property, disorderly conduct, and failing to comply with lawful orders,” said Gabriel. He said the conduct that has been the most concerning “has been the nightly assaults” on federal officers.
When asked how federal law enforcement officials were de-escalating tensions in Portland, Gabriel said that the fence around the courthouse had been put in place to do that: keep federal officers away from protesters.
“We wholeheartedly support the community’s constitutionally protected right to assemble together in large and even rowdy protests, speak their minds as they see fit, and engage in peaceful and civil disobedience,” said assistant US attorney
Gabriel was also asked when those federal officers might leave the city.
“It will be dictated by the peacefulness of the protests,” said Gabriel. “If DHS and the US Marshal Service deem that the courthouse can stand and can have integrity and is not subject to damage or attack, then the officers will go home.”
Also of note, Homeland Security Spokesperson Harry Fones read a statement to members of the media in which he referenced the people of Portland as rioters more than 20 times, even though a riot had not been declared on Friday night. Fones did not answer questions after reading his prepared statement.
The two men said that over the past few weeks, federal officers have been injured by items that included exploding mortars and projectiles like canned food and frozen water bottles.
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