Most Portland rioters have their cases dismissed

AP Photo/Noah Berger

It’s now been more than a year since the nightly riots in Portland began in earnest, with combinations of Antifa and BLM activists tearing the town up. It’s long since become impossible to easily count up the number of public spaces that have been defiled and/or set ablaze. Police stations have been attacked, along with federal buildings. To their credit, the Portland Police have, at least on some occasions, managed to arrest some of the worst perpetrators. But what happened to all of those people who were led away in handcuffs? As a recent study from Fox News reveals, pretty much nothing for the most part. You can forget about all of the people who were charged with a variety of misdemeanors. They were almost all back out on the street in a matter of hours without facing any real penalties. But even among the more than 100 people who were charged with a variety of felonies, almost all of them have had their cases dismissed or deferred without action having never spent a single day in prison.

David Bouchard admitted he put a Customs and Border Protection officer in a chokehold. Charles Comfort was indicted by a grand jury of civil disorder for twice charging at Portland Police Bureau officers and hitting them with a makeshift shield then kicking a third officer while being arrested. Both men faced federal charges stemming from their actions during a summer of more than 100 straight nights of often violent protests in Portland. But Bouchard and Comfort are among dozens of Portland federal arrestees whose cases were dismissed or are being deferred without so much as a day behind bars.

Between May 25 and Oct. 7, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon filed federal charges against 97 people connected to the Portland unrest. Since then 58 of those cases have either been dismissed outright or are on track for dismissal through a deferred resolution agreement. Thirty-two cases are still pending, with many likely to also end in dismissal according to sources. Seven people have entered guilty pleas.

So how did things reach this stage? The linked report only found one single example of a Portland rioter who was actually going to wind up going to prison. And that guy was the numbskull who was dumb enough to stand in front of a security camera and set fire to the Justice Center while shirtless and having his name tattooed across his back. I’m not sure if he was better qualified for a stretch in jail or a Darwin Award.

By way of offering an excuse, one former prosecutor named Alex Little opined that the Oregon U.S. Attorney’s Office “was most likely overwhelmed.”

“The prosecutors in that office, the number of prosecutors, that support, even the courthouse system, isn’t really set up to handle those sorts of numbers,” said Little.

Seriously? The Oregon U.S. Attorney’s office doesn’t have the manpower or resources to handle 100 felonies spread out over nearly a year? A public defender named Lisa Hay came up with a different theory that may hold more water. The defendants are hitting the courts with claims that the federal government “overreacted” to the “protests” last year and were too harsh on the people involved. That might be coloring the judgment of the prosecutors, leading them to write more of these crimes off. In other words, they’re blaming it on Donald Trump.

That should be a nonsensical explanation, but it’s apparently being taken seriously in Oregon. There are countless videos of people physically assaulting the police and other law enforcement officials. Vehicles and buildings have been destroyed and most of the action was caught on camera and posted to social media. I don’t think you need to bring Nero Wolfe in to crack some of these cases. But that really speaks to the heart of the matter here. If you’re not going to take these rioters seriously and bring them to justice, why would the rest of the mob hesitate before continuing their reign of terror? If there are no consequences to their actions, they will likely believe they’ve been given a free pass. And from all appearances so far, they seem to be correct.