The nightly violence in Portland, Oregon, could lead to someone being killed, Oregon’s U.S. Attorney Billy Williams warned late Aug. 18.
Williams, whose office oversees the entire state, said he was “sickened” by the video showing a brutal assault on Aug. 16, when a man identified as Marquise Love allegedly punched and kicked another man until he lay unconscious on the pavement.
“While the circumstances leading up to this brutal assault are still under state and federal review, I must condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this depraved violence,” Williams, a Trump nominee who served as acting U.S. attorney in Oregon in the Obama administration, said in a statement.
“We must all continue to work together to achieve peace in the streets of Portland. If we are not successful, I fear one day soon we will wake up to news that a Portlander has been killed. We cannot let this happen.”
The statement came shortly after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, called for federal prosecution of people who commit assaults.
“So much for ‘peaceful protests’ in Portland. This shocking attack by a mob against a young man in the streets of Portland is beyond the pale,” Graham said.
The people responsible appeared to violate the victim’s constitutional rights, the senator added, urging the Department of Justice “to actively pursue prosecution of the perpetrators of this horrific attack.”
A manhunt is underway for Love, 25, police officials said.
It isn’t clear what sparked the assault, though detectives are exploring reports that the victim, Adam Haner, was intervening in the assault of a transgender female.
Tammie Martin, Haner’s girlfriend, said they were in his truck when they saw someone being harassed. He pulled over and got out to help.
“He was trying to help and they called him a white supremacist, and then some black lady smacked him and he got in his truck,” Martin told KPTV.
Video footage showed Martin punched by at least one black female and forcibly prevented from reentering the truck. Because her vehicle was also downtown, she told Haner to drive away.
Haner crashed into a tree a few blocks away before being punched and kicked by a man authorities say is Love.
Haner was rushed to the hospital unconscious with serious injuries.
“When I got there, he was on the ground, I didn’t know if he was breathing and I didn’t know what happened,” Martin said.
“This little group was not a protesting group. They were just looking for a fight. They were trying to fight people driving by. They were just looking to fight somebody.”
Haner was later released from the hospital and is resting at home, his brother and girlfriend said.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell called on members of the public to provide information and refrain from tampering with evidence.
He and other local officials condemned the violence.
“The actions depicted in these videos are universally rejected as wrong—and the actions are illegal,” Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said in a statement, vowing to prosecute those responsible.
Democratic Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler added: “I denounce all violence, including the assaults that were filmed and posted to social media last night. The work this community and others nationally are doing towards criminal justice reform and racial justice are in an effort to make our communities safer. Assaults like these make our community less safe.”