A day after a top Democratic congressman dismissed violent protests in Portland as “a myth,” police in the Oregon city said they found a cache of loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails in a park across the street from where the worst of the clashes have occurred.
The cache follows on reports of protesters using a variety of things, including high-intensity lasers and commercial-grade mortar-launched fireworks against local and federal police now engaged in nightly clashes with protesters.
“Tonight Portland Police were near Lownsdale Square Park. A person pointed out a bag to them. Inside the bag police found loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails,” Portland police tweeted.
Police also said they faced mortar-launched fireworks and someone ignited a fire inside the protective fence around the federal courthouse that’s become ground zero for protests. The crowd then used shields and umbrellas to try to provide cover for a protester who tried to cut through the fence.
Portland police said the crowd was dispersed, but insisted its officers didn’t take part, suggesting it was federal police.
The action came just a day after a pro-Trump activist posted video of himself asking Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, about the violent protests. The activist, screen named Essential Fleccas on Twitter, asked Mr. Nadler whether he would disavow “the violence from Antifa that’s happening in Portland.”
“That’s a myth that’s being spread only in Washington, D.C.,” Mr. Nadler responded, before an aide whisked him away.
Reporters for The Associated Press, embedded with the federal forces inside the courthouse over the weekend, painted a very different picture. They documented fireworks exploding on top of agents, leaving one with a concussion and another with “his hearing deadened and bloody gashes on both forearms.”
The Associated Press reported that protesters recently deployed leaf blowers to try to direct tear gas and pepper spray back on the federal officers — who went and got leaf blowers of their own.
The protests in Portland have now stretched 60 days, and have proved to be a dividing line in American politics.
Democrats and liberal activists argue President Trump has inflamed the situation by deploying federal agents from Homeland Security to provide assistance to the Federal Protective Service, which provides security at federal property such as the courthouse.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has demanded that federal police withdraw. He also spread a rumor last week that federal officers had been approved to use live ammunition on protesters, despite robust denunciations from officials.
Mr. Wheeler and the mayors of Chicago, Seattle, Albuquerque, Kansas City and Washington, D.C., wrote a letter to congressional leaders on Monday demanding they pass legislation to block Mr. Trump from deploying federal police to maintain law and order.
The mayors said they’re happy to have investigators working out of bureaus probing specific crimes, but want a say before broader deployments.
The federal officers say they are on site to protect federal property — a stay with which Mr. Wheeler has ordered his own city police in the past not to help.
Speaking to the Center for Immigration Studies, a D.C.-based think tank, one Homeland Security agent deployed to Portland described being in the courthouse and said the protesters are “catatonic with hate.”
“When DHS personnel are visible, they throw frozen water bottles at them, canned goods, paint and gasoline,” he said. “They try to shine high-powered lasers into our eyes, which can cause permanent damage. They chant and spray paint ‘feds go home’ as one of their slogans, and that could be easily achieved. If they could prove they wouldn’t destroy the courthouse, DHS personnel would go home. It is that simple.”
He also said the protesters, who ostensibly began their demonstrations out of a concern for racial justice, shout racist slogans.
“I’m seeing African American Federal Protective Service inspectors, 20 years’ law enforcement officer, being called the N-word to their face for the first time in their careers, by a scrawny, pasty White booger-eating communist s—-head,” the unnamed agent told CIS.
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
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