PORTLAND -- They strike in the dark of night, targeting banks and businesses by breaking windows and ATMs.
Surveillance video obtained by NewsChannel 8 shows several recent attacks. Dressed in all black, their faces covered, a swarm of anarchists used rocks and projectiles to inflict their damage.
There is certainly a boldness that goes along with that type of dramatic vandalism, said Commander Robert Day of the Portland Police Bureau.
Over the past three years, various banks in Portland have sustained tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage, leading to at least one arrest.
NOT JUST VANDALISM
A newly unsealed search warrant suggests the FBI has been tracking a small group of anarchists in Portland since last April.
In November of 2011, police raided three homes in Northeast Portland. Anarchists had taken over the vacant property.
A surveillance team followed the group as they drove north in a rented Zipcar to participate in May Day protests.
Federal agents believe five or six black-clad protesters from Portland attacked the federal courthouse in Seattle. There is now a grand jury investigation.
Many witnesses have refused to testify.
As part of this federal probe, the FBI raided three Portland homes in July, where investigators recovered cell phones, iPods and bank account records.
I think there is more attention to the anarchist thing because it is oppositional, radical, alternative, said John Zerzan, author, philosopher and host of Anarchy Radio. I don't think they are dangerous to people, to, you know, the regular populace. I think, I hope, they are dangerous to the system.
Zerzan said he believes property damage is a way to further the anarchist ideology: No government, no laws, no police or any other authority.
You can have a nice, polite rally and people make speeches and go home and so what? I think you've got to take some action, said Zerzan.
In a story posted on the FBI website titled, Domestic Terrorism, Anarchists Extremism: A Primer the government notes that the belief in anarchy is perfectly legal. But the use of violence by extremists is against the law.
A Portland man is now facing federal charges for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail at a Portland police car in November. While awaiting trial, the judge has ordered that he avoid contact with anarchist groups.
Anarchists are active on the Internet. One anarchy website includes a tutorial on avoiding surveillance cameras. Lessons learned, they suggest, from recent attacks on Portland banks.