Marbles, liquid lead to federal arson charge for Portland protester

2020 Protests

Cyan Waters Bass is accused of twice lighting the outside of the Justice Center on fire

Cyan Waters Bass, 21, was arrested following a riot September 23, 2020 in downtown Portland (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Portland man faces a federal arson charge in connection with a protest on September 23, after a Multnomah County judge tossed out charges in connection with the same event.

Police arrested 21-year-old Cyan Waters Bass after demonstrators descended on the Justice Center in downtown Portland.

Three police officers were hurt and 13 people were arrested that night as the Justice Center was set on fire, Central Precinct windows were shattered and Molotov cocktails went flying in the streets. The riot came amid national unrest over the ruling in the case of Breonna Taylor’s death, which was announced earlier in the day.

Throughout the evening, officers said they saw Bass “holding a crowbar and using a slingshot or wrist-rocket to shoot projectiles through the windows of the PPB Central Precinct portion of the building,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Officers allegedly saw Bass “squirt a liquid on the plywood covering windows on a section of the north side of the building several times” and then light it on fire. The fire spread to an awning on the building, according to police. Bass is accused of walking to the east side of the building and doing the same thing, scorching plywood and concrete and damaging the awning.

The Justice Center houses the Multnomah County Detention Center which had more than 200 inmates inside on the night of the demonstrations, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. There were also 25 federal inmates “held in custody on exclusively federal matters,” according to authorities.

Police arrested Bass later that evening and allegedly found marbles, a crowbar, a slingshot, two lighters and a clear bottle with an unknown liquid in his possession. He originally faced two arson charges, attempted assault on a public safety officer, unlawful use of a weapon, possession of a destructive device, riot, and criminal mischief.

All of those charges were later dropped or dismissed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, according to court records.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office has now charged Bass with arson. He appeared in federal court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty. Bass is due back in court in early December.

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