2 Charged for Roles in Violent Portland Demonstrations

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
July 15, 2020Updated: July 15, 2020

Two men were charged for participating in violent demonstrations in Portland, federal officials said.

Video footage showed a demonstrator take a flaming piece of wood from a fire that demonstrators started in the street near the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and place it next to a wood-covered facade, according to charging documents.

Shortly after, a second demonstrator walked up and tried to wedge the wood against the exterior of the courthouse.

Another demonstrator later removed the wood and tried extinguishing the flame.

The situation unfolded at approximately 1:30 a.m. on July 13.

A Department of Homeland intelligence specialist analyzed footage from the demonstration and provided federal agents images of Peter Weier, the demonstrator who tried wedging the wood.

Weier was arrested at 3:30 a.m. after the crowd thinned out. He admitted to being part of the crowd but denied touching the burning piece of wood, though he said he saw the person who had.

According to the documents, Weier violated a federal law that states: “Whoever maliciously damages or destroys, or attempts to damage or destroy, by means of fire or an explosive, any building, vehicle, or other personal or real property in whole or in part owned or possessed by, or leased to, the United States, or any department or agency thereof, or any institution or organization receiving Federal financial assistance, shall be imprisoned for not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, fined under this title, or both.”

portland riots
Officers with the Federal Protective Service, top right, hold their shields up and guard the doorway of the Hatfield Federal Courthouse after the glass door was shattered by agitators, in Portland, Ore., on July 2, 2020. (U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Oregon)
Epoch Times Photo
Agents from different components of the Department of Homeland Security are deployed to protect a federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 5, 2020. (Doug Brown via AP)

The Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse is a federal building.

Another demonstrator, Benjamin Bolen, assaulted a federal officer, according to a charging document. He was charged with a misdemeanor.

Bolen was one of a number of defendants sued by journalist Andy Ngo last month. The lawsuit linked Bolen to Rose City Antifa, a cell of the far-left anarcho-communist group, Antifa.

Bolen was also arrested for disorderly conduct after violent demonstrations following President Donald Trump’s election in 2016.

Riots and demonstrations in Portland have continued virtually unabated since May 26.

The Portland Police Bureau said Wednesday that a “couple hundred” demonstrators gathered again in Portland, some of whom later lit fires near the Justice Center, a building that contains a police precinct. The group later hurled glass bottles and pointed lasers at officers who removed barricades set up in a street.

Federal officials announced last week charges against seven who were allegedly involved in the mayhem. An eighth was charged this week for allegedly assaulting a U.S. Marshal’s Service deputy with a four-pound construction hammer.

The assault came after the man was captured on video using the hammer to try to bash in a door to the federal courthouse.

The violence has caused an estimated $23 million in damage and lost customers to downtown businesses, according to police.