News & Politics

Biden DHS Responds as Antifa Rioters Again Set Fire to Federal Courthouse in Portland

AP Photo/Noah Berger

On Thursday, antifa agitators who gathered to protest against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) burned American flags, broke glass, and set fire to the plywood at the federal courthouse in Portland. Federal officers with the Department of Homeland Security under President Joe Biden responded in much the same way they did under Donald Trump, but DHS has yet to release a statement about the incident.

“Anti DHS/ICE and [Stop Line 3] protesters gather,” local reporter Garrison Davis tweeted with a video. “A few of the remaining uncovered windows have been broken. An American flag burns in front of the door.”

As agitators clad in the trademark antifa black bloc smashed the door and spray-painted obscenities and the indigenous “Land Back” slogan, police launched pepper spray at the rioters.

“A group of around 50 are gathered at the federal courthouse building. Some people set a small fire near the entrance & others are spray painting the building with graffiti,” KOIN News reporter Jennifer Dowling tweeted with a video.

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Federal agents marched through downtown Portland and again used tear gas to clear the rioters.

Rioters continued to set the structure ablaze and federal officials repeatedly responded, putting out the fire multiple times.

Under Trump, DHS would defend its actions with press releases after antifa riots like this. Yet as of Friday morning, the DHS had yet to release a statement on this response to the violence.

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Earlier on Thursday, antifa agitators attempted to break into a Chase Bank location, where a security guard pulled a firearm on them. These agitators had reportedly targeted the bank in order to stop the funding of an oil pipeline between the Canadian province of Alberta and Superior, Wisconsin.

The Portland Police Bureau did not respond to the attack on the federal courthouse — which falls under federal jurisdiction — but the department announced it has been preparing for demonstrations over the weekend.

“We are aware of events planned tomorrow and this weekend in which people plan to gather and demonstrate. Demonstration Liaison Officers (DLOs) are available to work with community members organizing these events,” the bureau tweeted.

Over the summer following the death of George Floyd, antifa rioters besieged the federal courthouse for more than 100 consecutive nights, firing commercial-grade fireworks at the building, setting it ablaze, and throwing Molotov cocktails toward it. In January, antifa rioters engaged in violence yet again.

After the January violence, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki insisted that “President Biden condemned protests and violence on the far right and the far left before he was president,” Biden often singled out groups like the Proud Boys while only once explicitly condemning antifa. “Peaceful protests are a cornerstone of our democracy but smashing windows is not protesting and neither is looting, and actions like these are totally unacceptable,” Psaki said.

Despite the violence, the Portland City Council voted to cut at least $15 million from the police budget last June, eliminating 84 positions. Last month, when police faced three separate shootings and a violent antifa riot, the department’s resources were stretched too thin to protect private property and keep the peace.

Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.

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