Rioters Attack US Courthouse in Portland

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.
March 12, 2021 Updated: March 13, 2021

Rioters in Portland created chaos at a U.S. courthouse on Thursday, smashing windows, setting fires, and clashing with federal officers.

Dozens of people gathered outside the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in downtown Portland in the afternoon, initially entering the building and refusing to leave.

“Officers arrived and found about 30 people refusing to leave, some smoking inside, some with pets. The situation escalated when people began damaging property, including a television and the front doors to the building,” the Portland Police Bureau wrote in an incident summary.

Officers eventually ejected the group and located one suspect on the courthouse steps, arresting him. The man, identified as 22-year-old Darby Howard, resisted arrest and punched an officer in the face, according to the bureau.

Rioters returned as night fell. Video footage showed them shattering windows, ripping plywood from the exterior, setting fires, and sparring with law enforcement.

No local law enforcement officers were spotted. Federal officers utilized crowd control munitions to force rioters away from the building. Clashes lasted into Friday morning.

Epoch Times Photo
Darby Howard, 22, was arrested for allegedly being part of a group that trespassed and damaged property at the federal courthouse in Portland, Ore., on March 11, 2021. (PPB)

Rioters were encouraged to go to the building by a poster that called for action using language often used by the far-left Antifa network. The poster urged people to wear black, adding a Black Lives Matter slogan: “No Justice! No Peace!”

Portland hosts one of the largest Antifa contingents. The members and Black Lives Matter activists participated in the targeting of the courthouse in the summer of 2020, which triggered a federal response to protect the courthouse from being burned to the ground, according to former Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Rioters spray-painted “ACAB,” an anti-police acronym favored by Antifa, and “BLM” on the side of the courthouse on Thursday. They also wrote: “You are trying to destroy us so we will destroy you” next to an Antifa symbol.

The riot took place just after federal authorities removed a protective fence that was installed around the courthouse because of the repeated attacks last year. Plywood protecting windows had also been removed, but was put back up following the actions in the afternoon.

The recent protests and riots in the city have been made up of “self-described anarchists,” Robert King, Mayor Ted Wheeler’s senior public safety adviser, told KOIN, adding: “The mayor will meet this week with the Acting U.S. Attorney to talk more about this group and potential assistance from the US Attorney’s office and other federal entities to hold individuals involved in this conduct accountable.”

portland riot hatfield
A rioter throws a flaming object toward the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse after breaking through the perimeter fence, in Portland, Ore., on July 22, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

The police bureau’s deputy chief, Chris Davis, said that protesting is fine. “That’s not what we’re talking about,” he said. “With this group, this is a small group that is bent on destroying things. And what they want is a conflict. My advice is—don’t give them a conflict.”

The bureau said in a tweet late Thursday officials were aware of events planned for Friday and this weekend and offered assistance to organizers “to better ensure a safe environment for event participants and non-participating community members.”

The bureau referred The Epoch Times to its incident summary; a spokesman for Oregon’s acting U.S. Attorney Scott Asphaug declined to comment.

The Department of Homeland Security didn’t respond to an inquiry.

Wheeler, a Democrat who oversees the bureau and was reelected last year, announced earlier Thursday he wants $2 million in funding for the police and other agencies to try to cut down on shootings in the city, which have spiked over the past year.

“The City and its partners are working hard to prevent and reduce gun violence. It’s a public health crisis that’s harming our entire community,” he said in a tweet this week.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Oregon’s U.S. attorney. The Epoch Times regrets the error.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. news, including politics and court cases. He started at The Epoch Times as a New York City metro reporter.