Federal Officer Struck With Hammer During Portland Protests

Federal Officer Struck With Hammer During Portland Protests
Portland police respond to protesters during a previous rally in Portland, Oregon, on Aug. 17, 2019. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

A federal law enforcement officer in Portland, Oregon, was struck in the head and shoulder with a hammer during a protest-turned-riot outside a courthouse in the early hours of July 11, the city’s police bureau said.

The incident occurred after a demonstration that began late on July 10 outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse turned violent.

Officers responded to reports that an individual was attempting to break down a door of the federal courthouse with a hammer, the city’s bureau said in a statement on Twitter. The person, “deliberately” struck the officer with the tool, police said. The condition of the officer wasn't available.

“Federal Officers reporting a subject was breaking down a door of the Federal Courthouse with a hammer creating a hole in the door. Officers came out and one was deliberately struck in the head and shoulder with the hammer,” the bureau said. “An arrest was made. Pepper spray and CS gas deployed.”

One person was arrested on suspicion of unlawfully pointing a laser, police said.

Police later said the hammer was recovered; it isn't clear whether the individual allegedly behind the attack was arrested. An image posted on the bureau’s Twitter page appears to show a nearly 16-inch hammer.

"People lit fires in trash cans and dumpsters but no structures were threatened. The crowd finally dispersed by about 3:20 a.m.,” police said.

Footage released by police from the scene near the courthouse showed a crowd along SW 3rd Avenue between SW Main and SW Salmon Streets, and two lit fires.

Rioters have increasingly targeted federal properties in Portland, including the federal courthouse, amid ongoing protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

The federal courthouse was targeted just days earlier, resulting in the arrest of seven people on charges that include assault on law enforcement officers, destruction of federal property, and other disorderly conduct related to riots at the building.

All seven defendants were released pending trial after their first appearances in federal court on July 6.

In a July 7 statement, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Billy J. Williams said that the courthouse has been “a repeated target of vandalism, sustaining extensive damage.”

Law enforcement officers who have been working to protect the courthouse have been subjected to “threats; aerial fireworks including mortars; high-intensity lasers targeting officers’ eyes; [and] thrown rocks, bottles, and balloons filled with paint from demonstrators while performing their duties,” the statement added.

Last week, Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis said that the weeks of nightly violent demonstrations in the city have caused an estimated $23 million in damage and lost customers to downtown businesses.
Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.