Report: Federal prosecutors quietly dismiss nearly one-third of violent protests cases from summer 2020

PORTLAND, OR- According to federal court documents that were reviewed by KGW8 News, federal prosecutors have dismissed more than one-third of cases stemming from the violent protests that occurred on a nightly basis in downtown Portland over summer 2020. 

In their review, the news outlet found that 31 of the 90 protest cases have been dismissed by the U.S. Department of Justice, including a mix of misdemeanor and felony charges. Some of the most serious charges dropped include four defendants charged with assaulting a federal officer, which is a felony.

Reportedly, more than half of the dropped charges were “dismissed with prejudice,” which means that the case cannot be brought back to court. Several former federal prosecutors described this as extremely rare. 

These dismissals of protest cases run counter to the tough talk that came from the U.S. Department of Justice over summer 2020.

Billy Williams, then-U.S. Attorney for Oregon, vowed that there would be consequences for the nightly graffiti, fires, and vandalism outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse. In a September 25, 2020 press release, Williams said:

“Make no mistake: those who commit violence in the name of protest will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time.”

In a more recent interview with KGW, Williams explained that the cases were dismissed in instances where prosecutors did not believe they could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt. He said:

“Each case was analyzed for the evidence that we had at the time. Careful decisions were made on whether or not someone should be charged based on the evidence.”

Williams, who stepped down on February 28th as U.S. attorneys are traditionally asked to resign at the start of a new administration, added:

“Everything is case-specific when you go about these cases being processed through the system.”

Federal prosecutors rarely handle protests cases, but when Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt passed on most protest cases saying he was reserving resources for the most serious crimes, the federal government stepped in.

Then-Attorney General William Barr reportedly instructed federal prosecutors to aggressively pursue protesters deemed violent or destructive. Williams said:

“I’ve never made a decision in my career based upon political pressure or institutional pressure.”

Most of the defendants whose protests cases are still pending have seen their trials delayed, mostly because of the continued pandemic. Those defendants face a mix of felony and misdemeanor charges.

Reportedly, three defendants cut plea deals resulting in probation and home detention. Two of the plea agreements required a relatively short prison sentence of 3o days and several people closely involved with the protest cases said that they expect many more federal charges to be dismissed soon.

At least 11 of the dismissed federal protest cases were dropped on or after the inauguration of President Joe Biden. With a new president and a new U.S. Attorney in Oregon, it is unclear how the rest of these cases will be handled moving forward.

Laura Appleman, a law professor at Willamette University who is not directly involved in these cases, believes that federal prosecutors are not making their decisions based on politics. Rather, she think they are considering resources on an already busy caseload. She said:

“The U.S. Attorney’s office has to go through and very carefully ask, ‘Is it worth using our limited time and energy to prosecute each and every of these federal misdemeanors?’”

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Not messing around: Federal law enforcement responds to huge anti-ICE protest in Portland

January 24th, 2021

PORTLAND, OR – The evening of January 23rd in Portland, Oregon saw yet another demonstration aimed at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility located within the city.

This protest that was eventually declared as an unlawful assembly, was said to have prompted the response from Federal Protective Service officers.

In Portland, the ICE facility situated within the city has been the target of protesters for some time within the past year, with optics that transpired on the evening of January 23rd that hosted similar chants and antics akin to what the facility has been subjected to previously.

Video captured from the demonstration showed protesters shouting the likes of, “No borders! No nations! Abolish deportations!”

At approximately 10:00 p.m. in Portland that evening, law enforcement officers from the Federal Protective Service – which the FPS is an entity that falls under the Department of Homeland security – had declared the protest to be an unlawful assembly.

Demonstrators and protesters at the time were advised over loudspeaker that any instances of trespassing on federal property while hosting a weapon would result in suspects being arrested.

Later on in the evening, federal agents could be seen responding to the riotous crowd by using various crowd control methods such as teargas.

It’s unclear, as of this time, how many arrests were enacted during the unlawful assembly on the evening of January 23rd. At least one video has surfaced showing one suspect being detained by law enforcement that evening. 

As mentioned earlier, anti-ICE protests had been transpiring for some time within Portland, with anti-ICE sentiments being expressed on protests and unlawful assemblies that occurred as recently as Inauguration Day of 2021. 

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We at Law Enforcement Today recently reported on some of the Inauguration Day protests/riots that transpired in Portland – as well as Seattle. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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According to reports, groups of far-left rioters engaged in various acts of vandalism and other alleged criminal offenses in both Seattle, Washington and in Portland, Oregon following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.

Among these groups of rioters were individuals adorning what’s typically referred to as Antifa black bloc.

With regard to the events that transpired in Seattle, Washington, there are reports of at least three people who were arrested during the unrest.

According to Seattle police, one individual had been arrested for property damage, another arrested for assault, and another individual arrested for an alleged burglary and property damage with respect to a Starbucks storefront within the city.

Images of the property damage that occurred in Seattle were shared by the Seattle Police Department on Twitter.

Among the images displayed are what appeared to be an Amazon Go storefront having been defaced with spray paint and also shattered windows among the William Kenzo Nakamura courthouse.

The protests which hosted the criminal acts started at around 4:30 p.m. on January 20th in Seattle, which started out initially as a hodgepodge of individuals having congregated at a park before they started to march throughout the streets of downtown Seattle.

Individuals among the group that were marching had been seen carrying signs that hosted such popular far-left slogans like “Abolish ICE”, while other signage present during the protest bore messages generally denigrating both law enforcement and the newly elected President Biden.  

Local reporting of the riotous demonstration that transpired in Seattle alleged that some within the group of protesters were hurling objects at vehicles and engaging in targeted harassment of people who were not among them protesting.

Videos also surfaced online showcasing an American flag that was draped out in the middle of an intersection that was lit afire by the protesters. However, the fire was reportedly extinguished quickly thereafter.

As mentioned earlier, protests and riotous acts of this brand were not only present in Seattle on January 20th – but also in Portland.

According to Portland Police Sergeant Kevin Allen, a group of roughly 150 people had amassed at Revolution Hall at approximately 2:00 p.m. on January 20th in Portland and then made their way over to the Democratic Party of Oregon headquarters.

This Portland-based protest was coined as the J20 protest – which was essentially billed as a demonstration against President Biden’s inauguration and also expressing disdain toward law enforcement in general.

Apparently, this group of people we’re also trying to support the rights of indigenous people.

Much in line with the typical acts often associated with Antifa inspired protests and riots, the Portland demonstration saw the likes of smashed windows, buildings being vandalized by way of graffiti, and also hostile interactions with police officers who were attempting to maintain order.

Despite a new administration coming into the White House that are compliments of the Democratic Party, it appears those among the far-left are still not satisfied – and are up to the same sort of antics akin to the summer riots of 2020.

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Author: Jenna Curren

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