Feds Charge Violent Portland Arsonist Who Was Set Free by the Local DA

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

The U.S. Attorneys office in Portland, Ore., has charged a man with arson, days after the Multnomah County district attorney failed to indict him on multiple felony charges. According to court records, a circuit court judge dismissed the charges on October 2 when they either expired or the court received no indictment. Now the feds have taken over to prosecute a crime the DA should have pursued.


Cyan Waters Bass, 21, was originally arrested in the early morning hours of September 24, and charged with multiple felonies. KOIN 6 News reported:

Police arrested 21-year-old Cyan Waters Bass after demonstrators descended on the Justice Center in downtown Portland.

Three police officers were hurt and 13 people were arrested that night as the Justice Center was set on fire, Central Precinct windows were shattered and Molotov cocktails went flying in the streets. The riot came amid national unrest over the ruling in the case of Breonna Taylor’s death, which was announced earlier in the day.

Throughout the evening, officers said they saw Bass “holding a crowbar and using a slingshot or wrist-rocket to shoot projectiles through the windows of the PPB Central Precinct portion of the building,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Windows were damaged, Molotov cocktails were thrown and a riot was declared outside PPB Central Precinct the night of the Breonna Taylor grand jury decision in Louisville, September 23, 2020 (PPB)Officers allegedly saw Bass “squirt a liquid on the plywood covering windows on a section of the north side of the building several times” and then light it on fire. The fire spread to an awning on the building, according to police. Bass is accused of walking to the east side of the building and doing the same thing, scorching plywood and concrete and damaging the awning.

The Justice Center is home to the Multnomah County jail, which had 200 county inmates and 25 federal inmates housed on the night of the riots. When Portland police arrested Bass, they found marbles, slingshots, lighters, and accelerants in his possession.

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Bass was arraigned the next day on a total of seven felony charges and one misdemeanor:

1 Arson in the First Degree. Felony Class A 09/23/2020

2 Arson in the First Degree. Felony Class A 09/23/2020

3 Attempt to Commit a Class A Felony. Felony Class B 09/23/2020

4 Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Felony Class C 09/23/2020

5 Unlawful Possession of a Destructive Device. Felony Class C 09/24/2020

6 Riot. Felony Class C 09/23/2020

7 Attempt to Commit a Class C/Unclassified Felony. Misdemeanor Class A 09/23/2020

999 Criminal Mischief in the First Degree. Felony Class C 09/24/2020

Court records show the judge dismissed all the charges after either the information expired or prosecutors failed to indict.

Now Bass faces a more serious prosecution effort, as the U.S. attorney has charged him in federal court.

The Multnomah County DA, Soros-funded and antifa-aligned Mike Schmidt, announced shortly after taking office in July that he would not pursue prosecution for many riot crimes committed in Portland, despite a clear state statute requiring him to do so:

When any five or more persons, whether armed or not, are unlawfully or riotously assembled in any county, city, town or village, the sheriff of the county and the deputies of the sheriff, the mayor of the city, town or village, or chief executive officer or officers thereof, and the justice of the peace of the district where the assemblage takes place, or such of them as can forthwith be collected, shall go among the persons assembled, or as near to them as they can with safety, and command them in the name of the State of Oregon to disperse. If, so commanded, they do not immediately disperse, the officer must arrest them or cause them to be arrested; and they may be punished according to law. [Formerly 145.020; 1987 c.526 §1]


In response to Schmidt’s failure to uphold the law, U.S. Attorney Billy Williams deputized 56 Portland cops to allow them to make arrests on behalf of the federal Department of Justice. Emily Zanotti of the Daily Wire had a good synopsis of what happened next:

The United States Attorney for Oregon, Billy Williams, said Wednesday that the Oregon State Police will remain federal deputies, despite Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s pleas.

Mayor Wheeler asked the U.S. Attorney’s office and the Department of Homeland Security to rescind the federal designation earlier this week, well before the designation is due to expire, out of concern that federal deputies could charge Portland’s protesters with federal crimes for assaulting officers, attacking federal buildings, and fomenting unrest.

The mayor’s office issued a statement noting that they’d “asked the U.S. Attorney’s office to withdraw the designation.”

“A key feature of the designation is that anyone who assaults a federally deputized official could be subject to federal charges,” the statement added, per Oregon Live. “Fortunately, I am confident the Multnomah County District Attorney will continue to prosecute anyone who assaults or otherwise harms police officers or others.”

Wheeler may have confidence in the Multnomah County District Attorney, but as The Daily Wire reported last month, the Department of Homeland Security deputized members of the Oregon State Police out of concern that the same District Attorney would not prosecute protesters arrested during Portland riots, especially if those individuals were charged with low-level offenses.

“The Multnomah County prosecutors office also said, back in early August, that if a person is arrested for ‘a misdemeanor or felony crime that causes only financial harm during a protest,’ they will be offered ‘conditional dismissal,’” The Daily Wire noted. The cross-deputization, then, “could allow state police to bypass the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office entirely when it comes to charges against arrested protesters.”

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To give a fuller picture of the craziness of the Portland City Council, check out what radical anti-cop city commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty had to say on Twitter:

Statements by Hardesty, Mayor Wheeler, mayoral challenger Sarah Iannarone, and other city commissioners make it clear that the majority of Portland City Council agrees with the decision not to prosecute the innumerable violent felonies committed during the 130 or so days of endless riots around the city.


The stats bear it out. A report Wednesday by the Portland Tribune shows that 9 out of 10 rioters arrested had their charges dropped this summer:

Police made more than 200 arrests in connection with ongoing civil unrest in Portland during the month of September. About nine out of every 10 suspects have already had their charges dropped, however.

Officers with the Portland Police Bureau, as well as Oregon State Police, made 213 arrests in September, according to a KOIN 6 News database compiled from press releases and direct inquiries. That’s a decrease from August, which had a record 295 arrests.

The study also shows that DA Scmidt’s catch-and-release policies have not calmed the streets:

At least 20 of the people arrested in September have been arrested in connection with previous protests. Some of them are:

• Tracy Molina, 47, has been arrested six times.

• Brandon Paape, 31, and Peter Curtis (preferred name Tabitha Poppins), 40, both have at least five protest-related arrests under their belts.

• Simona Arteaga, 39, and Rachel Myles, 34, have both been arrested four times, according to police and court records.

Perhaps the most alarming case concerns Joseph Sipe, 23:

At least one person arrested at a September protest now has a warrant out for his arrest. Joseph Robert Sipe allegedly admitted to lighting a Molotov cocktail and throwing it behind a line of police officers on Sept. 23, according to court documents.

Officers originally arrested Sipe on charges that included attempted murder, attempted first-degree assault, and arson. However, the more serious charges were dropped and he now only faces one count of riot and one count of possession of a destructive device.

The 23-year-old is identified in court papers as a homeless former Marine who has schizophrenia and an arrest warrant in Georgia for aggravated assault. Sipe has been unemployed for “a couple years” and food stamps are his only source of income, according to court documents.

Despite that, he managed to post $1,000 bail on Sept. 29. He was supposed to appear in court again Friday, Oct. 2, but didn’t show, according to the DA’s office. A warrant has now been issued for his arrest. KOIN 6 News reached out to his public defender for comment, but did not hear back.


One can scarcely deny the conclusion that Portland leaders have condoned and encouraged violent riots. It is impossible, then, not to realize that Portland needs the federal Department of Justice to save it from itself. The Cyan Waters Bass case provides all the necessary proof.

Editor’s Note: Want to support PJ Media so we can keep telling the truth about the riots and attacks on law enforcement? Join PJ Media VIP and use the promo code LAWANDORDER for 25% off your VIP membership. 

Jeff Reynolds is the author of the book, “Behind the Curtain: Inside the Network of Progressive Billionaires and Their Campaign to Undermine Democracy,” available at www.WhoOwnsTheDems.com. Jeff hosts a podcast at anchor.fm/BehindTheCurtain. You can follow him on Twitter @ChargerJeff, and on Parler at @RealJeffReynolds.

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