Seventy-four people are facing federal charges for crimes committed during rioting in Portland in recent months.
Unrest has shaken Oregon’s largest city since May 28.
The people charged include Dakota Means, 20, accused of assaulting a federal officer on Aug. 24; Gabriel Agard-Berryhill, 18, accused of throwing a bomb at the federal courthouse in downtown Portland on July 28; and Richard Lindstedt, 33, accused of operating a drone in restricted airspace in late July.
Other crimes include damaging federal property and failing to obey lawful orders.
“Violent agitators have hijacked any semblance of First Amendment protected activity, engaging in violent criminal acts and destruction of public safety,” Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said in a statement.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our federal law enforcement partners are expeditiously working with local and state law enforcement to identify, arrest, and prosecute these individuals that are disrupting the rule of law in our communities and physically attacking our law enforcement officers and destroying property. Violent agitators not only delay real reform, but make our community less safe by keeping law enforcement from responding to other critical calls for service.”
The continued violence has led to over 600 arrests between local and federal law enforcement.
Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s office told reporters earlier this month that out of approximately 150 felony referrals from the Portland Police Bureau, 50 were moved to the prosecution stage.
Some of the other cases were declined while a more in-depth look at the rest was taking place.
A spokesman told The Epoch Times via email that about 640 cases have been referred as of this week but that he wasn’t able to say how many were being prosecuted.
Schmidt recently announced a new policy that his office would presumptively dismiss some charges, including riot and disorderly conduct, but said prosecutors would keep pressing charges against violent criminals.
The office on Thursday announced the first felony protest-related case initiated since late May.
Rollin Tristan Fodor, 18, pleaded guilty to one count of arson. He will serve 45 days in jail, with credit for time served.
Fodor was part of a group that set fire to a small business on June 26.
“This type of criminal behavior is not acceptable and we will prosecute these cases when the allegations are supported by evidence. Had this building caught fire, there would have been a significant risk of property damage or even physical injury to the police officers, fire fighters and other community members inside,” Schmidt said in a statement.
The FBI’s top agent in Portland said this week that the bureau was shifting agents to focus on the violence associated with rioting.
In a new statement, Cannon said the U.S. Constitution doesn’t support assault, arson, or property damage.
“Among the victims of violent crime are business owners, residents and individuals exercising their First Amendment rights through protests or other legitimate forms of expression,” he said.
Those charged federally face time in prison. Some face up to 20 years.
President Donald Trump referred to Portland on Thursday night while speaking at the Republican National Convention.
“Make no mistake. If you give power to Joe Biden, the radical left will defund police departments all across America. They will pass federal legislation to reduce law enforcement nationwide. They will make every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon. No one will be safe in Biden’s America,” he said.
Biden has gone back and forth on whether to support defunding police departments. He said he supported redirecting money from law enforcement agencies but later said he does not believe police departments should receive less money.
Portland Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler told reporters this week that only “a few dozen individuals” are responsible for the mayhem in his city.
“They’re intent on creating mayhem and attacking and harming people, not just property. That’s a line that we can’t allow our community to cross. Not anymore. Enough is enough. It’s time to rise up and take immediate steps to repair and beautify our city,” Wheeler said in a rare virtual press briefing.
Wheeler called on community leaders and others to denounce the violence and said he’s working on plans that will help the city move past the current situation.