The Department of Justice announced Friday that it has arrested and charged 18 individuals with a variety of criminal charges connected with the long-running civil unrest outside the Hatfield Courthouse in Portland, Oregon. The charges include assault on a federal officer, property damage, trespassing, arson, and others. All 18 made their first appearance in court today and were released pending trial.
The seemingly unending rioting and violence has consumed the area around the courthouse for over seven weeks, and has at times even featured Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who was purportedly pepper sprayed when he, along with other protesters, refused to disperse.
The courthouse falls under the jurisdiction of federal authorities including the United States Marshals Service and the Department of Homeland Security, who have been criticized by some in the community for attempting to protect the building. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have gone so far as to call the federal officers "storm troopers" and to suggest that their activities are unAmerican.
The ongoing siege of a courthouse by protesters has been slow to attract the media's attention, but now the scene in Portland — in which violence and disorder have grown progressively worse for weeks on end — has become a partisan flashpoint for debate. The protests began, as in many places, with the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police on May 25, but while many other cities have returned to a sense of normalcy, Portland's chaos rages on, perhaps worse than ever.
President Trump has frequently criticized Mayor Wheeler and other Portland authorities for their failure to effectively quell the riots, and has promised to use the resources of the federal government to protect federal property and the people of Portland.
On Sean Hannity's Fox News program Thursday night, Trump said, "[Wheeler] made a fool out of himself. He wanted to be among the people, so he went into the crowd and they knocked the hell out of him. That was the end of him. So that was pretty pathetic."