Federal Officers Fire Tear Gas, Make Arrests After Portland Rioters Launch Fireworks Into Courthouse

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 24, 2020Updated: July 24, 2020

Federal officers fired tear gas and other crowd-control munitions after rioters in Portland launched commercial fireworks into a federal courthouse and set fires just outside the building.

Federal agents gave multiple warnings to disperse before responding with crowd control measures.

The scene unfolded around 11 p.m. on July 23 and continued overnight.

A group estimated by some in the thousands gathered outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, a federal building that’s been targeted on a nightly basis for weeks.

People in the crowd tried taking down the fence that was erected around the courthouse several days ago to try to control the riots. Rioters used saws, wire cutters, and other tools; at other times, they attempted to use brute force to rip the fencing from its foundation.

A portion of the fence was eventually breached and several people went inside the perimeter. Several fires were started inside the fenced area.

Federal police officers rushed out and dispersed the crowd. As they did so, they were hit with large projectiles and incendiary devices and flashed with lasers, the Portland Police Bureau said.

After about an hour of engagement, federal officers went back inside the courthouse. A couple hundred rioters returned to the building and kept setting fires, cutting and breaching the fence, and launching commercial fireworks toward it. Eventually, police officers rushed out again and dispersed the crowd.

Several people remained in streets in the area and engaged in criminal behavior, prompting Portland police officers to declare an unlawful assembly. Even so, “many people stayed in the area and continued to light fires, and destruct federal courthouse property,” the bureau said in a summary of the night’s events.

The rioters “slowly dissipated” over the next several hours.

Epoch Times Photo
Rioters launch fireworks at the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 23, 2020. (Ankur Dholakia/AFP via Getty Images)

Portland police, forbidden from working together with federal law enforcement, have taken an extreme stand-off posture this week, refusing to directly engage the rioters despite the rampant criminal activity.

Portland police officers were not present overnight except for making announcements from a sound truck of the unlawful assembly declaration.

At least four people were arrested by federal officers, including one person carrying a leaf blower. Federal officers have arrested dozens of demonstrators in Portland in recent weeks.

Rioters have been using leaf blowers, shields, umbrellas, and other equipment as they get into formations and try to block crowd-control munitions fired by federal officers. The leaf blowers are used to blow tear gas away.

A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said in a statement on Friday that its mission in Portland is to defend federal property.

“Congress passed the law giving us that mission and we’re not going to abandon it just because violent anarchists want us to,” the spokesperson said.

Bowen Xiao contributed to this report.