Tuesday, July 7, 2020 6:52 PM EST
By GILLIAN FLACCUS, AP
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Attorney in Oregon announced federal charges Tuesday against seven protesters who are accused in court papers of defacing a federal courthouse and assaulting federal officers during protests in Portland, Oregon against racial injustice and police brutality.
The protesters are charged with offenses ranging from disorderly conduct to destruction of federal property and assaulting a federal officer and were released pending trial after a brief court hearing Monday.
The protester facing the most charges, 19-year-old Rowan Olsen, has pleaded not guilty. His federal public defender, Susan Russell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Protesters in Portland have demonstrated for 40 consecutive nights following the death of George Floyd and are increasingly focusing their actions on federal properties in the city’s downtown core, including the Hatfield Federal Courthouse.
Court papers filed Monday allege Olsen used his body to hold the doors to the courthouse shut to prevent federal officers from coming out to confront demonstrators and caused the glass to shatter. Other protesters then threw fireworks inside the courthouse and at federal officers, starting a small fire in the entryway, according to court papers.
Four of the seven people arrested are from the Portland metropolitan area. One is from Oceanside, California, one from Seattle and one from Eugene, Oregon.
A sworn affidavit included in court filings says that during an interview after his arrest, Olsen said he was not near the courthouse door and said a Federal Protective Service officer smashed the glass with a fist.
Demonstrators are also accused of shining laser beams in the eyes of federal officers, assaulting officers with a shield and destroying a security camera.
U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said in a statement that U.S. Marshals Service deputies and officers from the Federal Protective Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have all been on duty protecting the courthouse.
In the affidavit, Federal Protective Service special agent David Miller said his agency, the U.S. Marshal Service and other federal agencies he did not identify have been working in Portland to protect the federal courthouse and other federal properties.
Protesters began targeting federal facilities in Portland on May 28, Miller said, and the field office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “was targeted by a Molotov Cocktail.”
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