Federal Officers ‘May Not Recover Sight’ After Laser Attacks From Portland Rioters: Official

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
July 23, 2020US News
Federal Officers ‘May Not Recover Sight’ After Laser Attacks From Portland Rioters: Official
Federal officers use crowd control munitions to disperse Black Lives Matter protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 21, 2020. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

Authorities in Oregon said at least three federal law enforcement officers may not regain their eyesight after a large demonstration turned violent outside a Portland federal courthouse earlier this week.

Violent rioters used a type of “green laser” and targeted the eyes of officers as they tried to protect the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse from being vandalized after rioters started removing the plywood coverings surrounding the building and throwing fireworks, Deputy Director of the Federal Protective Service (FPS) Richard Cline said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“You’ve seen the green lasers that are being used out there, we have three officers who currently have eye injuries, and they may not recover sight in those eyes from those laser attacks,” Cline stated.

The FPS has purchased anti-laser glasses that federal officers are now wearing during the riots to prevent further eye injuries, the director added.

Cline said a large crowd of over a thousand protesters gathered shortly after midnight outside the courthouse, blocking the streets and repeatedly kicking the front door of the building. About 20 minutes later, rioters started a fire across the street of the courthouse, an area where they usually gather after midnight.

A man stands next to a fire
A man stands next to a fire at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 21, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

“The group [grew] increasingly violent and aggressive, the plywood protecting the Hatfield Courthouse was taken down and a window was broken while protesters were attempting to breach the courthouse,” Cline stated.

Journalist Andy Ngo posted videos of the attack on Twitter. In one video, a rioter is seen using a fire extinguisher to smash a glass window of the courthouse.

“Rioters were successful in tearing off part of the protective barrier of the Portland federal courthouse,” Ngo wrote. “They then try to shatter the glass so that they can start a fire inside”

“Several hard objects, including can food and glass bottles were thrown at our officers who were out to move them,” Cline said. “Protesters advanced towards and engaged the officers, began throwing water bottles and other hard objects, fireworks, and using lasers.”

Cline explained authorities responded by deploying pepper balls and tear gas and managed to make seven arrests following the unrest. Two of the people were arrested for alleged assault on federal officers and five others for noncompliance with lawful directions.

Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf said at the press conference that the department fully supports and will protect those who wish to peacefully protest in Portland, but what officers are seeing every night is completely the opposite.

NTD Photo
A federal officer points a less-lethal weapon toward a crowd of a few hundred protesters in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 23, 2020, in Portland, Oregon. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
A rioter kicks in temporary boarding at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Ore., on July 21, 2020. (Noah Berger/AP Photo)

The unrest in Portland follows a daily cycle, according to Cline. From roughly 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., peaceful protesters assemble and demonstrate. After midnight, violence organized by agitators breaks out. The federal response to the violence has as a result been wrongly described as targeting peaceful protests.

“What is occurring in Portland in the early hours of every morning is not peaceful protesting, these individuals are organized and they have one mission in mind: to burn down or to cause extreme damage to the federal courthouse and to law enforcement officers,” Wolf said.

“We see them planning their attacks, and yet the city of Portland takes little to no action to stop or disperse this crowd,” he continued. “These individuals carry lasers, baseball bats, explosive fireworks, metal pipes, glass bottles, accelerants, and other weapons all targeting federal facilities and federal law enforcement.”

Cline added that following the recent rise in officers doxxed, the FPS will remove the names of officers from their uniforms and replace them with badge numbers.

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