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Portland mayor: Community is 'sick and tired' of criminal destruction, violence

Officials in Portland, Ore., say residents are growing increasingly frustrated with ongoing political violence after a demonstration resulted in more property destruction and multiple arrests. 

“The community is sick and tired of people engaging in criminal destruction and violence and doing it under the guise of some noble cause,” Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) said during a news conference with other local leaders on Monday night, according to The Associated Press.

Portland became a hotbed of civil unrest last summer during demonstrations protesting the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis. Similar demonstrations in cities across the country were largely peaceful. But in Portland, some of the demonstrations have deteriorated into widespread arson, looting and assaults.

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Rioters in the city, who have called for defunding the local police department along with other measures, have on several occasions targeted a federal courthouse, spraying it with graffiti, setting fires and destroying nearby storefronts and other property.  

“The people who work here support the voices of racial and social justice and will not be intimidated from doing our jobs by the ugly graffiti or broken windows,” Scott Erik Asphaug, U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, said during the press conference, the AP reported. “We do not confuse the voices of the many with the shouts of the few who hope to hold our city hostage by petty crime and violence.”

For weeks, federal officers have been stationed outside the courthouse, where Justice Department officials have spent an estimated $1.5 million on repairs in the last year.   

Last week, rioters smashed windows and blocked streets once again after police removed protective fencing from the courthouse. Some rioters threw objects at police, and more than a dozen people were arrested during the clash. 

Police say the rioting was carried out by members of the same group they clashed with during similar instances of unrest last summer, an organization they characterized as the “self-described anarchist left." 

“I want to be clear that this was not a protest group,” Chris Davis, the city's assistant police chief, said, according to the AP. “This was a group of people who have come to believe that they are entitled to damage other people’s property, threaten community members and assault police officers.”