At least three federal officers deployed to Portland, Oregon, may have been permanently blinded after rioters shined high intensity lasers in their eyes and launched fireworks at a federal courthouse in the city.
Protests have continued to rage in the city for more than 55 consecutive days since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May, prompting President Trump to deploy federal officers to help quell the chaos, a move opposed by Democratic state and local leaders.
Many of the demonstrations have turned violent as groups of rioters have engaged in standoffs with law enforcement, attacking officers with mortars, lasers, rocks, and bottles.
Deputy Director of Federal Protective Service, Richard "Kriss" Cline, told reporters Tuesday that a crowd of more than 1,000 "rioters" surrounded the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse on Monday and began tearing plywood barriers down and throwing objects at officers inside.
The rioters also allegedly graffitied the building, blocked roadways, and lit several fires in the area.
According to Cline, when officers responded to put out the fires, lasers that can cause permanent blindness were shined in their eyes.
"We have three officers who currently have eye injuries and they may not recover sight in those eyes from those laser attacks," Cline said in the news conference.
You can watch the news conference below. Cline's remarks begin at the 15:00 mark.
DHS/CBP Press Conference July 21, 2020 youtu.be
Cline said that FPS has now purchased anti-laser glasses to protect the officers' eyes.
He added that seven arrests were made on Monday night and early morning Tuesday, two for assaults on federal officers and five others on misdemeanor charges.
Also during the news conference, Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf took aim at the city of Portland for its apparent disinterest in quelling the violence.
"These individuals carried lasers, baseball bats, explosive fireworks, metal pipes, glass bottles, accelerants, and other weapons all targeting federal facilities and federal law enforcement," Wolf said. "And yet the city of Portland takes little to no action."
Federal officers have been active in Portland since earlier this month despite resistance from Democratic officials.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), who represents the city, argued in the face of facts that "Portland, Oregon, is not out of control," but rather there are simply "some people who have strong feelings."
Portland Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler has also criticized Trump for sending federal officers to the city, calling the move "a blatant abuse of police tactics by the federal government" and arguing that the presence of federal officers has "sharply escalat[ed] the situation."
Authorities and protesters clash in Portland youtu.be