Portland Rioters Attack Courthouse Fence; Federal Officers Deploy Tear Gas

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 27, 2020Updated: July 27, 2020

Federal officers in Portland, Oregon, fired tear gas and used other crowd-control devices early on July 27 after rioters launched fireworks and hurled projectiles at them during efforts to take down fencing around a U.S. courthouse building.

Rioters used wooden boards and other objects to smash the barrier, which was erected last week to try to deescalate the nightly mayhem that’s unfolded in Oregon’s largest city since late May.

Federal officials say no response is necessary if crowds stay away from the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse and the new fencing. Violent demonstrators repeatedly set fire to and damaged the courthouse before the barrier was put up; they’ve recently focused their energy on pulling down the fence with saws, ropes, chains, hammers, and other tools.

The crowd of several hundred people on July 27 blocked streets around the courthouse, a common occurrence, and spent hours yelling, chanting, banging on the fence, and throwing objects toward the building. Just before midnight, rioters started launching mortar-style fireworks and some began climbing over the fence. Others used umbrellas and shields to cover a person trying to cut through it.

Federal officers responded around 12:30 a.m., firing tear gas, and using other methods in a bid to disperse the mob.

The Epoch Times witnessed one arrest during clashes between officers and rioters.

Officers succeeded in dispersing the crowd but some returned to the courthouse around 1 a.m. and dumped garbage over the fence before setting it on fire.

“The fire started quickly, grew into large flames on the sidewalk, and was out within about a minute. Following that, dozens of people approached the outside of the fence with shields and began throwing objects over it,” the Portland Police Bureau said in its summary.

The crowd was dispersed over the course of the next few hours.

Local police returned to their stand-off stance and didn’t participate in dispersing the crowd, nor did they made any arrests.

Two other people were detained after a shot was fired about two blocks from the federal courthouse. They were both released.

The person who was shot was taken to a hospital via private vehicle.

Epoch Times Photo
Demonstrators walk along a steel fence as federal officers launch tear gas during a riot outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 26, 2020. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo)

Their wound wasn’t life-threatening, according to the bureau.

Ammunition and destructive devices recovered by police officers in the area of this incident at around the same time appear to be unrelated.

City and state officials have repeatedly called on the Trump administration to withdraw all federal officers from Portland. Trump administration officials say the violence seen in the days leading up to July 4 led to the surge in federal assets, which are protecting federal property like the courthouse.

Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said July 26 that the level of violence in Portland is different from other cities. At least 14 federal officials were injured by projectiles and lasers over the weekend, the department said.

“Federal officers are again only leaving the building to respond to attacks on the fence. And night after night, they’re being met with rioters with hard projectiles, mortars, fireworks, and lasers that can cause permanent blindness,” Harry Fones, a spokesman for the department, told reporters on July 25.

Since early July, 60 people have been arrested at or near the courthouse; prosecutors have pending criminal proceedings against 46. Charges include alleged assault on federal officers, arson, disorderly conduct, and failing to comply with lawful orders.

Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.