After multiple failed attempts to burn down the Portland police union in recent weeks, antifa rioters tried out a new tactic on Monday night. They brought a hose into the Portland Police Association (PPA), aiming to flood the building. After the police foiled this attempt, the rioters returned to their scheduled programming, again setting a fire outside the building. Police, likely on the orders of Mayor Ted Wheeler (D-Portland), declined to make arrests.
About 200 antifa rioters and human shields began to march to the PPA at about 9:45 p.m., Portland Police reported. “During past events, that location has been the target of multiple arson fires and severe vandalism.”
As the rioters marched to the PPA Monday night, they chanted, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now! If we don’t get it? Burn it down!” Lovely.
Antifa rioters defaced the building with graffiti and police “received a call from an alarm company that there were people breaking into the building from the rear.” Officers warned the crowd not to engage in burglary and vandalism and that if they did, police would respond with crowd control agents. Rioters responded by shining green lasers into the eyes of officers on the sound truck. As the police explained, “the light from those types of lasers is capable of causing permanent eye damage.”
One of the rioters broke through the protective plywood covering and a window beneath it in order to gain access. Then he or she “attempted to flood the building with a hose,” the police reported. Officers removed the hose but it remains unclear how much damage the flooding had caused.
Antifa Rioters Break Into Portland Police Union and Set It on Fire as Mayor Hamstrings Federal Officers
Antifa rioters later returned to the building, setting the exterior on fire, Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, reported.
After breaking inside & trying to flood the Portland Police union building with a hose, antifa returned later. They have now set the exterior of the building on fire. In an effort to "deescalate," police made no arrests at all so far tonight. #PortlandRiots
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 18, 2020
The police report concluded with these maddening paragraphs:
In an attempt to deescalate the situation, officers disengaged and stayed away from the event. A smoke canister was deployed to help the officers leave safely. The crowd remained for several hours in the street, but they were otherwise peaceful and officers had no further contact with them.
No arrests were made, no force used, no injuries.
Since antifa rioters have a well-funded network that bails them out after they get arrested, and since the local district attorney has announced he will not prosecute various crimes — even when rioters violently attack police — perhaps the police decided it was not worth their time to arrest the rioters. Or perhaps Wheeler directed them to stand down on the ridiculous hope that not enforcing the law would somehow “deescalate” the situation.
Although Wheeler has finally vocally condemned the violent antifa rioters, it appears he is triangulating in the race against self-described antifa candidate Sarah Iannarone. Wheeler rightly condemned violent antifa rioters for “attempting to commit murder” by trapping police officers inside the Penumbra Kelly building before trying to light it on fire. Iannarone refused to condemn the attempted murder, saying, “I understand why they’re angry.”
These are the two candidates who will face off in November — the mayor who waited for months to condemn the violence and the challenger who still refuses to condemn attempted murder.
To his credit, Wheeler also 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.”
This kind of warning would be particularly useful if the cops were to actually arrest violent rioters and the “peaceful protesters” who enable them. Americans should not confuse protesters who demonstrate for a cause with rioters who violently attack police officers and attempt to burn down buildings. When “protesters” join a violent crowd that is marching to a police building in order to burn it down, flood it, or otherwise destroy it, they do not remain “peaceful protesters.” At that point, they are abetting violent crimes.
Withdrawing the police does not “deescalate” a violent situation.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.