Portland Rioters Using Coordinated Tactics to Launch Laser Attacks on Federal Officers

August 4, 2020 Updated: August 5, 2020

Powerful commercial-grade lasers have been used by rioters to hurt more than 100 law enforcement officers protecting the federal courthouse in Portland in recent days, according to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) senior official Ken Cuccinelli.

“We’ve had more eye injuries from lasers … these are commercially available that you are seeing used now in Portland to a degree that we have never seen before,” Cuccinelli told the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution Tuesday during a hearing on Antifa violence in recent months.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is chairman of the panel, while Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) is the ranking minority member. The hearing was entitled “The Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble: Protecting Speech by Stopping Anarchist Violence.”

“We’ve had more eye injuries than I can ever remember among our officers in another incident,” Cuccinelli continued. “Of all our injuries, eyes are number one, 113 out of 277” injuries to DHS officers in Portland.

Cuccinelli is performing the duties of the Deputy Secretary of DHS in an acting capacity.

The DHS official testified that the commercial grade lasers are able to inflict serious eye injuries within seconds, due in part to the human eye seeing green much more intensely than other parts of the color spectrum.

“Your eye, the human eye, sees the green part of the spectrum more brightly than, say, red, something like 10 times brighter,” Cuccinelli explained.

“The body has about a .02 second look-away reaction and one of the challenges is, if you are not looking at the person who is assaulting you with the laser, you can’t figure out who is performing the assault,” he said.

Officers are often assaulted simultaneously by multiple rioters using the lasers in a clearly coordinated manner, he said. Such assaults are much more difficult for officers to defend themselves against.

“This is sort of the Portland formula. There is peaceful protesting until 10 or 11 pm, and then they go away and maybe some of them come back, but the group that comes back is, A, much bigger, but also, they come back for violence,” Cuccinelli told the panel.

Also testifying before the panel was Erin Neeley Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas and co-head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) Task Force on Violent Anti-Government Extremists.

In response to a question from Cruz, Cox said the FBI has launched “since May 28, over 300 domestic terrorist investigations. That does not include any potential civil rights violations investigations, or violent crime associated with the riots.”

Also scheduled to testify during the hearing was journalist Any Ngo, who has covered Antifa’s growth and activities since 2016. He came to national attention last year when he was physically assaulted by multiple Antifa members while covering demonstrations in Portland. Ngo told the subcommittee during his opening remarks that his family has received multiple threats of violence from members of Antifa.

During his opening statement, Cruz showed a brief video that contrasted peaceful demonstrations led by the Rev. Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement with a succession of violent scenes from the Portland riots that have been nightly occurrences for more than two months, as well as somewhat less regularly for more than a year before the present destruction.

Democrats on the panel offered few specific condemnations of the Portland rioters.

“Nobody is condoning violence by any one against any one,” Hirono said in her opening statement, but she devoted the majority of her comments to her contention that “white supremacists” were mainly responsible for the violence in Minneapolis following the May 25 killing of George Floyd by a local police officer, while accusing federal agents of “using violence and excessive force to break up these protests.”

Hirono accused Attorney General William Barr of directing federal law enforcement to use violent tactics in June “to clear Lafayette Square … so President Trump could get a photo opp in front of St. John’s Church.”

Protestors had set fire to the historic church near the White House, which has been visited by nearly every president following his inauguration.

“President Trump has ignored factual evidence showing that white supremacists have hijacked peaceful protests to incite violence and to stoke racial conflict such as in Minneapolis,” Hirono said.

A spokesman for Hirono did not respond to an emailed request from the Epoch Times for clarification on whether the Hawaii Democrat was suggesting that white supremacists were behind the nightly violence in Portland, or the illegal takeover of the Capitol Hill area of downtown Seattle, or of violence in other cities like St. Louis.