US Attorney: ‘No one in their right minds thinks this is OK’

2020 Protests

Media allowed inside the fence at the Hatfield Federal Courthouse

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than 1000 people protested outside the Hatfield Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland Thursday night. While there were many peaceful protesters, there were some agitators setting fires and throwing projectiles. Several times federal officers came out to break out the crowd using tear gas.

But protesters kept coming back.

Around 2 a.m., Portland police declared an unlawful assembly and the group dissipated over the next few hours. No one was arrested.

At 9 a.m., officials allowed media inside the federal courthouse for a look at the damage.

Inside the fence surrounding the Hatfield Federal Courthouse are bags of feces, commercial grade fireworks, CS cans used by officers, bricks, glass bottles, fluid cans for Molotov cocktails.

“I saw a walker like a senior citizen, disabled person’s walker thrown in here,” said Scott Asphaug, the First Assistant US Attorney for Oregon.

The federal courthouse still smells like tear gas, affecting those who work there.

“This building is supposed to represent justice and it’s drowning out the voices that should matter, which are the voices of social and racial justice taking place in Portland, and instead we’re talking about riots,” Asphaug said. “So the people who are doing the rioting are drowning out the voices that really need to be heard and that’s just heartbreaking.”

‘Portland is losing its soul’

Billy Williams, the US Attorney for Oregon, said leadership is needed to put an end to this ongoing violence.

“You know, it’s hijacking the moment in history. There are opportunities following the murder of George Floyd and the thousands and thousands of lawful protesters and groups calling for change which everyone can agree change is needed. So this is one of those moments in history when it can occur but it’s being blocked by this,” Williams said. “This is just mindless violence and it’s been politicized and in my view thats what enables this to continue because no one in their right mind thinks this is OK.”

He said blaming federal agents for protecting federal property is “such an easy political out for people who want to politicize what’s going on, the politicizing of what the violence is what I am talking about.”

Williams also verbally laid into City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty for her comments about Portland police.

“What’s coming out of City Hall – calling cops liars, that they are the ones starting the fires and then blaming protesters – I mean how ridiculous is that?” he said. “That is not leadership.”

What happens is up to the voters in the city of Portland, he said.

The ongoing protests and nightly violence are “not late night demonstrations,” he said “This is criminal activity. There is a difference.”

And he wants everyone to make a distinction between who is protesting and what they’re doing.
“Whether you are an opportunist, an agitator or an ancharchist, call it out for what it is.”

“For the anarchists, whoever come down here every night, we are not going anywhere. This is a federal courthouse where disputes get resolved civilly. That’s the essence of this building (the federal courthouse) that anarchists want to destroy. And we are not going anywhere.”

Williams is frustrated.

“Look around. Do you think it’s OK? Is there any justification on this? I hope not. Portland is losing its soul right now.”

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