Federal prosecutors have “quietly dismissed” 34 of 90 cases stemming from the violent riots in downtown Portland last summer, and many more federal charges are expected to be dismissed soon, KGW8 reported this week. Cases being dismissed include felony charges such as assaults on federal officers, court records show.
According to KGW, more than half of the dropped charges were “dismissed with prejudice,” which means the case can’t be brought back to court. And at least 11 of the dismissed cases were reportedly dropped on or after the inauguration of Mr. Biden.
For months- I've been tracking dozens of federal cases stemming from last summer's protests in downtown Portland. So far, 34 of 90 cases have quietly been dismissed by the U.S. Dept. of Justice- including both misdemeanor and felony charges. https://t.co/L4zdj3axH7 pic.twitter.com/rPQHpMdcQr
— Kyle Iboshi (@KyleIboshi) March 4, 2021
So far, none of the cases against the Capitol Hill rioters and trespassers have been dismissed. In fact, federal prosecutors are adding “enhancement charges” and building sedition cases, according American Greatness columnist Julie Kelly.
While dozens of right-wing protesters certainly acted badly that one day, Antifa agitators clashed with federal agents in front of the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland for weeks on end, costing the city at least $2.3 million for cleaning. The courthouse and four other federal properties were extensively tagged with graffiti and otherwise vandalized during nightly demonstrations. In addition to tagging the properties with graffiti, antifa and Black Lives Matter agitators set fires, and broke windows, as well as deployed commercial grade firecrackers, powerful lasers, and Molotov cocktails at the police.
More than 113 federal officers reportedly suffered eye injuries due to the lasers.
In an interview last summer, a DHS agent who had been deployed to protect the courthouse, said the agitators were “catatonic with hate,” and that officers were getting injured on a nightly basis.
“I personally saw an agent get hit in the leg with a bottle and limp back from the skirmish line. I saw video of another agent hit similarly and limp back. One DHS law enforcement officer had irritant thrown on his arms, which turned them red and caused a burn. Another guy had a firework explode directly on his chest. The use of fireworks has increased every night,” he said.
The U.S. Department of Justice last summer vowed that there would be consequences for the nightly violence.
“Make no mistake: those who commit violence in the name of protest, will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” said Billy Williams, then-U.S. Attorney for Oregon in a Sept. 25, 2020 press release.
In a change in tone, Williams told KGW in a recent interview that cases were being dismissed “in instances where prosecutors didn’t believe they could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
“Each case was analyzed for the evidence that we had at the time,” said Williams. “Careful decisions were made on whether or not someone should be charged based on the evidence.”
Williams stepped down on Feb. 28. after being asked to resign by the Biden administration.
“Everything is case-specific when you go about these cases being processed through the system,” he said.
Federal prosecutors rarely handle protest 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 feds stepped in. Then-Attorney General William Barr reportedly instructed federal prosecutors to aggressively pursue protesters deemed violent or destructive.
“I’ve never made a decision in my career based upon political pressure or institutional pressure,” said Williams.
By summer’s end, scores of people would be arrested on various federal charges by agents guarding the federal courthouse in Portland. The names and ages of those arrested were published by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Homeland Security in press releases. Additionally, photos of defendants’ belongings, from helmets to gas mask to goggles, were included in court documents.
Most of the defendants whose protests cases are still pending have seen their trials delayed, largely because of the pandemic. Those defendants face a mix of felony and misdemeanor charges. Three defendants cut plea deals resulting in probation and home detention. Two of the plea agreements required a relatively short prison sentence of 30 days. Several people closely involved with the protest cases, who asked not to be identified, said they expect many more federal charges to be dismissed soon.
Before federal agents were deployed to Portland to restore order, almost all of the violent rioters arrested were immediately released without having to post bail.
Portland DA Mike Schmidt refused to prosecute the antifa goons, allowing them to return to the street to continue their nightly siege of the federal courthouse.