Law & the Courts

Portland Rioters Injure Six Federal Agents With Fireworks, Lasers

Federal law enforcement officers gather as rioters take place in Portland, Oregon, July 26, 2020. (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)

At least six federal agents were injured during demonstrations in Portland Friday night when protesters launched fireworks at them and shone lasers at their eyes.

Protests have been nearly constant in Oregon’s largest city since the police custody death of George Floyd in May. Local officials have called for federal law enforcement agents deployed by the Trump administration to leave as nightly violence continues to rock the city. Some protests have been peaceful, but demonstrators who remain on the streets after dark have engaged in property destruction, throwing rocks at police, marking buildings with graffiti, and setting fires.

One agent had his hearing deadened and suffered bloody lacerations and burns on both his forearms after protesters shot a firework over the fence, the Associated Press reported. Other agents helped him to strip down to his boxers and T-shirt so his injuries could be photographed for evidence. The injured agent said he was more worried about his hearing than the injuries on his arms.

Another agent was hit in the head by a commercial-grade firework and suffered a concussion, and several agents left the demonstrations with vision issues resulting from lasers that the protesters pointed at their faces. Of the six agents injured, at least one was hospitalized.

Agents confiscate projectiles after the protests every night, including slingshots and blocks of wood and concrete.

Some protesters have also been injured since the Trump administration sent federal law enforcement agents to handle the situation. One demonstrator was critically injured and underwent facial reconstructive surgery after a federal officer fired an impact munition at his head, an incident that the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler earlier this month accused President Trump of abusing the use of federal law enforcement officers, whose presence he said has “ratcheted up the tension” rather than quelled the nightly violence.

Last week, more than 1,000 protesters congregated near the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse downtown and threw incendiary devices over the fence around the federal courthouse, which resulted in a large fire.

“It’s scary. You open those doors out, when the crowd is shaking the fence, and … on the other side of that fence are people that want to kill you because of the job we chose to do and what we represent,” an unidentified Deputy U.S. Marshal said, according to the Associated Press.

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