An 18-year old Hillsboro resident will face federal charges for assaulting a city police officer in what are the first federal charges brought since 56 Portland police officers were deputized in September.
Those deputations were part of the interagency response to a Sept. 26 far-right rally in the city, but the U.S. Department of Justice took the unusual step of extending them through the end of the year.
At the time, city leaders, civil rights activists and lawyers expressed concern that the DOJ was using the far-right rally as a ploy to insert themselves into the near nightly demonstrations that have been taking place in Portland since May.
Those concerns now appear to have been well founded.
In a statement released Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Oregon said a federally deputized Portland police officer was attempting to arrest a protester Oct. 7 near the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Southwest Portland when the protester used an umbrella to jab the officer. The arrest came after federal law enforcement officers engulfed blocks of the neighborhood in tear gas and fired impact munitions at demonstrators. Video from that evening shows protesters carrying umbrellas to protect themselves from law enforcement’s impact munitions, which have caused severe injuries to demonstrators.
This was protestors retreating from Feds in formation pic.twitter.com/guvYXc2XIY— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) October 7, 2020
“The PPB officer determined there was probable cause to arrest Rider for disorderly conduct and interfering with a peace officer. As the officer approached Rider to arrest him, Rider lowered the umbrella with both hands and forcibly jabbed the officer in the chest with the pointed end of the umbrella,” U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams said in a statement.
Video of arrests made that night show Portland police officers tackling and detaining protesters at least a block away from federal property, and no federal officers in sight.
Rider faces federal charges of civil disorder and assault on a federally deputized officer.
The charges once again raise questions about the purpose of the deputations. The Multnomah County District Attorney said PPB referred this case to them on Oct. 7 and that Rider has a Dec. 9 court date.
In September, in an email to the city attorney’s office clarifying how the deputations would be used, Assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Hayden said an assault on a federal officer charge “generally hinges on a federal interest (e.g. protecting a federal facility) or federal control over an investigation.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon Scott Asphaug said the PPB officer was protecting a federal facility at the time of the incident, but would not explain why federal charges were being pursued despite there being an open case in Multnomah County.
“We will have no comment on our charging process or decision-making,” he said.
Though the federal prosecutor’s office is pursuing the charges, city officials — including Mayor Ted Wheeler — have insisted that the deputations are not legal because the city no longer consents to them being active. Wheeler has also instructed the bureau to behave as if they were not deputized.