“Several dozen” additional federal officers will deploy to Portland, Oregon, according to local reports, with agents looking to expand the scope of the Portland offensive and investigate groups organizing and supplying the nightly riots taking place in the several blocks surrounding the city’s federal courthouse.
Portland’s public radio station also suggests that officers are looking to move beyond non-lethal forms of crowd control, but the outlet cites only unnamed federal law enforcement sources on the issue.
Violence in the area surrounding Portland’s federal courthouse has ramped up in recent days after the Trump administration announced that an elite unit of the Customs and Border Patrol would be assigned to protect federal property under attack in the city.
Although the city experiences daily, largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in the same vicinity, at night, after those protests disperse, more aggressive groups appear to confront federal officers protecting the courthouse, setting fires, tossing incendiary devices, and staging attacks on the chain-link fence surrounding and protecting the federal property.
Sunday night, amid some of the worst violence the city has seen in the 60-day unrest, Portland police officers reportedly found a bag, potentially left for rioters, containing improvised explosive devices and several loaded rifle magazines, per ABC News.
“The discovery came just hours after two people were arrested following reports that a shot was fired in the same park,” the outlet reported. “Officers responded just before 7:30 p.m. A person believed to be the gunshot victim arrived later at a hospital via a private vehicle with non-life-threatening injuries, police said.”
Officers did not explicitly say whether the weapons or the shooting incident were connected to the riots.
Dozens of federal officers in Portland and Seattle, Washington, have been injured by rioters, and at least three federal agents, protecting the Portland courthouse, are now believed to be “permanently blinded” after protesters used high-powered lasers in clashes with CBP, according to the New York Post.
“A federal agent’s hand was impaled by planted nails, another federal agent was shot with a pellet gun, leaving a wound deep to the bone, and tragically, three federal officers were likely left permanently blinded by the rioters using lasers pointed directly into their eyes,” the White House said on Friday.
An Associated Press reporter, embedded with federal agents over the weekend, told a harrowing story in the outlet’s Monday edition, describing the scene from inside the courthouse over the weekend, as protesters attacked from the outside.
“I spent the weekend inside the Portland federal courthouse w/ the US Marshals. Mortars were being fired off repeatedly, fireworks & flares shot into the lobby, frozen bottles, concrete, cans & bouncy balls regularly whizzed over the fence at high speeds,” Mike Balsamo said on Twitter.
“I watched as injured officers were hauled inside,” he added. “In one case, the commercial firework came over so fast the officer didn’t have time to respond. It burned through his sleeves & he had bloody gashes on both forearms. Another had a concussion from being hit in the head w/ a mortar.”