PORTLAND, Ore. — Seven people face federal charges for their actions during this weekend's civil unrest at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse in Portland, U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced Tuesday.
In late May, large groups of people started gathering each night in downtown Portland to honor the life of George Floyd and other black Americans killed by law enforcement, and to call for an end to systemic racism in law enforcement. The mass crowds filled interstate highways, crowded bridges and gathered nightly in local parks. They often paraded through neighborhood streets, drawing large numbers of participants.
Each night for several weeks running, those protests were followed later by a gathering of a separate, smaller group of people who engaged in apparent criminal activity, often outside the courthouse and the Multnomah County Justice Center. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, these people have assaulted police officers, destroyed property and engaged in looting, arson and vandalism.
In recent weeks, the organizers of the larger protests have said that they are moving away from the nightly events, choosing to instead focus on raising money for causes they support and organizing weekly events. But a smaller group of people have continued to meet in downtown Portland each night to assault police, destroy property and engage in other criminal activities, officials have said.
On multiple nights over the Fourth of July weekend, large groups of people broke windows at the courthouse, exploded fireworks inside the building and threw bricks, mortars, M-80s and "other flammables" toward officers. Portland police reported that several officers were injured from the fireworks and mortar explosions. Police declared the gatherings as riots and used crowd-control munitions and tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the actions of the people who are alleged to have commited the damage were unacceptable. "Our community deserves better than nightly criminal activity that destroys the value and fabric of our community," he said.
Here are the seven defendants and their charges:
- Rowan Olsen, 19, of Portland, is charged with disorderly conduct, creating a hazard on federal property, and failing to obey a lawful order. During the riots on the night of July 2, Olsen is accused of using his body to push against a glass door at the courthouse, stopping officers from leaving the building and eventually shattering the door. After the door was broken, a mortar firework was thrown into the courthouse and exploded near officers.
- Shant Singh Ahuja, 28, of Oceanside, California, is charged with destruction of federal property. Ajuha is accused of purposefully destroying a closed-circuit video camera on the outside of the courthouse on July 4.
- Andrew Steven Faulkner, 24, of Beaverton, Oregon is charged with assaulting federal officers. Faulkner is accused of shining a high-intensity laser at officers on the night of July 5.
- Gretchen Margaret Blank, 29, of Seattle, Washington is charged with assaulting federal officers. Blank is accused of using a shield to assault an officer who was trying to arrest another person.
- Christopher Fellini, 31, of Portland is charged with assaulting federal officers. Fellini is accused of shining a high-intensity laser at officers on the night of July 5.
- Cody Porter, 28, of Portland is charged with assaulting federal officers. Porter is accused of shining a high-intensity laser at officers on the night of July 5.
- Taimane Jame Teo, 24, of Eugene, Oregon is charged with assaulting federal officers. Teo is accused of shining a high-intensity laser at officers on the night of July 5.
The seven defendants made their first federal court appearances on July 6 and were released, pending trial.