On Sunday night, antifa rioters gathered in front of the Portland Police North Precinct, chanting, “Burn it down!” as they set fire to a mattress in the street. Even though Multnomah County had a burn ban in effect due to “extremely dry conditions,” police allowed the fire to burn for some time before finally deciding to intervene.
Antifa rioters began to march to the North Precinct at about 9 p.m. Pacific, the Portland police reported. The rioters had targeted that particular station many times in the recent past, setting fire to it while barricading the doors in what even Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland) acknowledged was an attempt to murder police officers. The precinct, which operates 24-7, is connected to multiple private businesses and is located in a densely-populated neighborhood.
“Burn it down!” the mob chanted. They lit a mattress on fire in the middle of the street.
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) September 7, 2020
Multnomah County has a burn ban in effect “due to extremely dry conditions,” the police press release noted. Despite this burn ban, the police did not immediately engage the fire.
“Because it was not an immediate threat to life safety or structures, officers remained far back and did not engage,” the police noted. Only as the fire grew did they begin to reconsider.
After antifa rioters added another mattress and some yard debris to the fire, sending lit embers into the air, “Portland Fire and Rescue expressed concern about the danger the fire posed to the community.”
At that point, the police notified the mob that firefighters would extinguish their fire. When police finally moved in, most of the mob moved back. The fire department extinguished the fire and then police again withdrew.
“Officers discovered one arrestee was in possession of a glass jar filled with flammable liquid. Another had a bottle containing an accelerant and a slugging weapon known as a slung shot,” police reported. “Still another had an electronic control weapon (‘stun gun’) and a baton. Two arrestees had ballistic vests, including one, marked with the word ‘press,’ with rifle plates.”
If Multnomah County had a burn ban in effect, why did the police not immediately rush to put out the fire? Would the cops merely stand back if they heard about a bonfire in a resident’s backyard?
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.