5 Charged in Ongoing Portland Rioting

September 28, 2020 Updated: September 28, 2020

Five more people have been charged for allegedly committing crimes during the ongoing rioting in Portland.

Unrest has continued nearly every night, save for a two-week portion when wildfires were looming earlier this month, in Oregon’s largest city since May 28.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced that his office was filing charges against four for alleged crimes, including Sophia Paige Kalsta-Watkins, 21, who was charged with first-degree arson.

The woman was allegedly observed on Sept. 24 setting a fire to wooden boards that were put up to protect the Portland Police Association in north Portland. The police union building has been repeatedly targeted by rioters in recent months.

Police officers arrested Kalsta-Watkins and found a lighter and a spray paint can in her belongings, according to court documents.

County prosecutors charged three other Portland residents for allegedly committing crimes during rioting on Sept. 23.

Epoch Times Photo
Sophia Paige Kalsta-Watkins, left, and Calvin Jackson have been charged after allegedly committing crimes during rioting in Portland, Ore. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Joseph Sipe, 23, was charged with one count of riot and one count of unlawful possession of a destructive device. Calvin Jackson, 19, was charged with one count of felony riot and one count of criminal mischief in the second degree. Cyan Bass, 21, was charged with one count of riot, two counts of arson in the first degree, one count of attempted assault in the first degree, one count of unlawful possession of a destructive device, one count of attempted assault of a public safety officer and one count of unlawful use of a weapon.

Authorities say Sipe was seen lighting a Molotov cocktail and throwing it. They say Sipe admitted to lighting and throwing the device behind a line of uniformed police officers.

Bass was allegedly seen squirting a substance on the main doors of the police bureau’s Central Precinct before lighting the doors on fire. Officers also reported seeing Bass holding an object with a wick, lighting the object on fire, and throwing the flaming object toward uniformed police officers.

Jackson was observed hurling rocks at the precinct’s windows and admitted to throwing rocks at the building, according to court documents. During the probe, law enforcement learned that someone else brought the rocks in a backpack and dropped them on the ground, which is when Sipe and others started picking them up and throwing them.

It wasn’t clear whether the defendants had lawyers.

Schmidt said in a recent statement that he was “alarmed and angry” after witnessing violence in downtown Portland last week, adding, “There is no justification for a person to ever throw an incendiary device, to set fire to buildings or to engage in other violent and destructive behavior.”

Epoch Times Photo
Cyan Bass, left, and Joseph Sipe have been charged after allegedly committing crimes during rioting in Portland, Ore. (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

The newly elected district attorney announced last month that prosecutors in his office wouldn’t pursue charges against some people arrested during protests, but vowed that people engaged in violent behavior would still be prosecuted. County prosecutors have charged about two dozen people for alleged crimes committed during protests or riots. Only one has been convicted or pleaded guilty.

Federal prosecutors have charged others. U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams said more than 80 are facing federal charges “related to protest violence” in a statement over the weekend. [delete]

The latest charge came on Friday as a grand jury returned one count of charging at police officers while holding a shield against Charles Randolph Comfort, according to court documents.

Comfort, 24, a resident of Vermont, allegedly was part of a riot that unfolded overnight June 25 in downtown Portland.

Comfort pleaded guilty and was released pending a jury trial.

The attorney listed for the defendant didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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