You wouldn’t know it from watching CNN this morning, or at least while I had it on my television, but conditions in both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington actually managed to get worse. Authorities in both cities declared riots and dispatched officers in riot gear with tear gas, flashbangs and non-lethal weapons to attempt to disperse the crowds. In many cases, the mobs were directly attacking police officers rather than simply setting fires and destroying property. (Though there was plenty of arson, looting and vandalism tossed into the mix.) Law enforcement appeared at times to be simply outnumbered and overwhelmed. Brazen rioters were seen picking up canisters of tear gas and hurling them back at the police. And the assaults on the DHS officers at the federal courthouses in both cities continues. Of the two, Portland was still probably the worse. (Associated Press)
Authorities declared a riot early Sunday in Portland, Oregon, where protesters breached a fence surrounding the city’s federal courthouse building where U.S. agents have been stationed.
Police described via Twitter the “violent conduct of people downtown” as creating a “grave risk of public alarm.” Police demanded people leave the area surrounding the courthouse, around 1:20 a.m. Sunday, and said that those who fail to adhere may be arrested or subjection to teargas and impact weapons.
By 1:40 p.m., both federal officers and Portland police could be seen on the streets, surrounding the courthouse, attempting to clear the area and deploying teargas.
Protesters remained in the streets past 2:30 a.m., forming lines across intersections and holding makeshift shields, as police patrolled and closed blocks abutting the area. Multiple arrests were made, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many.
If you watch the videos at the link you will see rioters using portable power tools in an attempt to cut through the fencing that was erected around the federal courthouse. Sizable fireworks rockets were fired directly at some of the officers. Several members of the PD were injured and hospitalized.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, the “protesters” seemed to be vying to have their mob “outmob” the rioters in Portland. The results were nearly the same.
Seattle police declared a riot Saturday following large demonstrations in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood and deployed flash bangs and pepper spray to try to clear an area near where weeks earlier people had set up an “occupied protest zone” that stretched for several blocks.
Via Twitter, police said they had made more than two dozen arrests for assault on officers, obstruction and failure to disperse. They also said they were “investigating a possible explosive damage” to the walls of the city’s East Precinct police station.
Authorities said rocks, bottles, fireworks and mortars were thrown at officers as they attempted to clear the area over the course of several hours stretching into Saturday night. One officer was hospitalized with a leg injury caused by an explosive.
Read that last sentence carefully. One police officer was hospitalized with a leg injury caused by an explosive. This isn’t a protest. This really isn’t even just a riot anymore. This is a war, and our law enforcement officers are fairly seriously outnumbered, though still maintaining an edge when it comes to both offensive and defensive equipment.
But that advantage doesn’t do much for them if they can’t press it as conditions dictate. Yesterday morning, Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best – obviously in cooperation with Mayor Jenny Durkan – went out in public and promised the “protesters” that the police would not use tear gas but would be equipped with pepper spray and blast balls in case violence broke out. That promise lasted until roughly two o’clock this morning when the Seattle PD was overwhelmed and the DHS agents sent to the city were mostly pinned down at the courthouse.
It’s been more than two months. How long do the police in Portland and Seattle have to keep pretending that the “protesters” are mostly peaceful and keep insisting that everyone is on the same side? How much longer do they need to make empty promises about not getting violent with the rioters? As long as the cops keep demonstrating weakness in the eyes of obvious criminals, the rioters will continue to press their advantage. And the mayors and governors in these cities and states are doing little or nothing to restore order. The National Guard should have been in both of those cities in massive numbers weeks ago. Everyone seems to be terrified that one of these hotbeds of violence will turn into another Kent State fiasco. But the students at Kent State actually were mostly peaceful. The armies of rioters in Seattle and Portland are showing up on a nightly basis prepared for war. They need to be met by an opposing army capable of taking back the streets. The alternative is to evacuate their law enforcement presence and surrender both cities to the anarchists and let them burn.
(Original post edited to correct the name of Kent State University)