On the 72nd straight night of violence in Portland, antifa rioters again targeted the Portland Police Association (PPA) — which they had lit on fire the night before — and turned the streets around it into a war zone. They erected barricades, lit fires on the street, and fired mortar fireworks at police officers, wounding two of them. In a memorable exchange, a man on the street assured antifa rioters that they should not worry even as they were getting arrested. Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, explained why this man reassured them, and why antifa rioters can keep themselves out of jail to return to the streets, night after night.
A group of about 200 rioters began marching toward the PPA, which is located in a residential neighborhood, at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday night, Portland Police reported. Police defended the building and warned rioters not to attack it again. Antifa rioters immediately started barricading the streets with dumpsters and fencing. They lit a fire on the sidewalk outside the office.
Meanwhile, the fire department and an ambulance were responding to an emergency medical call and had to reroute in order to get around the antifa blockade.
Police declared an unlawful assembly, but rioters responded by launching eggs at them. The Portland Police Bureau and Oregon State Police broke up the crowd, but violent rioters turned the streets into a war zone. They fired commercial-grade fireworks at officers, injuring at least two. One suffered a serious burn on his neck while another officer appears to have had shrapnel rip open his leg.
Oregon State Police and @PortlandPolice move antifa rioters back in north Portland tonight. Rioters set up street blockades again and throw an explosive right in the middle of cops. #PortlandRiots #antifa pic.twitter.com/rk6LKXbfDb
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 10, 2020
After Burning Police Union, Portland Rioters Threaten Nearby House: ‘We’re Gonna Burn Your Building Down’
Rioters regrouped at Kenton Park, and a smaller mob made its way back to the PPA where police arrested 16 rioters.
Yet the police also reported that “In an effort to deescalate, police left the area” for a time. When they did so, rioters “moved back out onto Lombard Street, blocking traffic with dumpsters, pieces of fencing, and other items. Some small fires were lit in the roadway. Those in the street were warned to move to the sidewalk. After some time, they moved aside and reopened the street.”
It seems rather odd that the police would leave the area “in an effort to deescalate” after all the violence they had seen. Yet something else rather telling took place on Sunday night.
A video shows a man reassuring rioters as they got arrested, “We already made some contact for you, stay quiet. … Don’t worry. We already call, we already made a few phone calls. Don’t worry, guys.”
Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, noted that “Antifa rioters in north Portland have access to more than $1.3m in bail money, as well as pro bono lawyers. This is one reason even the extremely violent suspects get released so quickly to riot again.”
“We already made a few phone calls. Don’t worry…”
Antifa rioters in north Portland have access to more than $1.3m in bail money, as well as pro bono lawyers. This is one reason even the extremely violent suspects get released so quickly to riot again. #PortlandRiots https://t.co/x66ZYflPPD
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 10, 2020
Antifa has a vast apparatus to enable the riots, complete with fundraising, cars to equip rioters, and complicated urban warfare tactics. While there is no single official antifa group, a wide network supports these violent actions in Portland, Seattle, and elsewhere.
On Thursday, Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) finally vocally condemned the violent antifa rioters, warning that when they attempted to burn down the Penumbra Kelly building on Wednesday night, they were “attempting to commit murder.” He urged truly peaceful protesters to stay away from the crowds that would develop into violent riots. “If you are a non-violent demonstrator, and you don’t want to be part of intentional violence, please stay away from these areas. Our community must say that this violence is not Portland, that these actions do not reflect our values, and these crimes are distracting from reform, not advancing it.”
Law enforcement in Portland needs to get serious about this violence and unrest. It was heartening to see the police effectively defend the PPA on Sunday night, but the riots are likely to continue until rioters cannot get bailed out of jail quickly and easily.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.