The second event was an assault on the garage doors behind the Federal courthouse and the ensuing confrontation among protesters. With things fairly quiet out front, I wandered toward the rear of the building, located at SW Second Avenue, to investigate a persistent clanging sound. This noise grew as I rounded the corner and came upon an individual with an American flag affixed to a pole; he was slamming the base of the pole against a maintenance cover on the sidewalk. Fifty or so people were milling around, perhaps drawn by the noise. They seemed to have no specific reason for being there. Then, one protester nonchalantly crossed the street and approached the garage doors of the federal courthouse. He stood a moment, as if sizing them up, and knocked on the door.

Why he did so, who can say? Typically, when people knock on a door, they want the door to open and admit them. I had seen no police anywhere in sight up to that point, and the evening was relatively placid so far — provided you weren’t a piece of plywood, and street fires didn’t bother you. Knocking on the door seemed a highly imprudent thing to do. Then, as the video below shows, a white man correct with a shield and helmet charged at that same door. He slammed the butt of the shield against the garage door, causing it to ripple and sway. His salvos had little effect beyond generating noise. He backed off for a moment, before returning and trying the same tactic.