PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams is speaking out after several Oregon leaders and lawmakers have come out to condemn the federal response to Portland protests in the wake of graphic videos being spread of recent incidents from the demonstrations.
On Saturday night, a federal officer shot a protester with an impact weapon in front of the federal courthouse. The man, Donavan Labella, was seen collapsing after being struck. Several fellow protesters then came to his aid before Labella, 26, was taken to a hospital where he is currently recovering from facial reconstructive surgery.
The actions taken by federal authorities on Saturday were condemned by numerous city, state and federal leaders.
“First let me start with the fact that no one wants to see anyone injured,” Williams told KOIN News AM Extra on Monday morning. “I saw the video of what happened to this young man Saturday morning and I was just as concerned as anyone else.”
Williams could not provide specific details about the investigation underway led by the U.S. Marshals Service, but did shed light on protocols for federal agents using force against protesters. He said the approach to defending federal property has been ramped up in the past week ever since a protester was able to break the front doors of the federal courthouse.
“Already throughout the last month and a half there has been substantial damage to the courthouse,” said Williams. “If there is a misdemeanor or felony occurring […], those individuals will be arrested. We can’t let that kind of violence that’s directed towards federal agents go on.”
Demonstrations have taken place every night in downtown Portland outside of a cluster of city, county and federal buildings on SW 3rd Avenue since May 28, which started when residents came out to protest the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who suffocated after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis.
On Monday afternoon, Williams released this statement:
“Per U.S. Marshals Service protocols, their internal investigation of this weekend’s incident has now been referred to the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General. We must respectfully decline further comment on this matter.”