The Justice Department on Friday announced that it has arrested 18 people on federal charges for their roles in riots and protests that have raged for weeks near a federal courthouse in Portland.
The U.S. attorney for Oregon announced the charges concerning alleged criminal conduct near the Hatfield Courthouse, which has been under siege by protesters and is being protected by federal law enforcement from the DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security.
Charges include assault on federal officers, property damage, trespassing on federal property, arson and failing to comply with lawful orders. All have made first appearances in federal court and were released pending trials or other court proceedings, the DOJ said in a statement.
Court documents said that protests, which have been ongoing for more than 50 days, have often been followed by criminal activity, including assaults on law enforcement, destruction of property, vandalism and arson.
“U.S. Marshals Service deputies and officers from the Federal Protective Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection working to protect the courthouse have been subjected to nightly threats and assaults from demonstrators while performing their duties,” the DOJ said in a press release.
The arrests come amid increasing scrutiny of the federal response to the riots and protests in Portland. While law enforcement officers have been assaulted and doxed, Democrats and other officials have said federal law enforcement have escalated the situation.
The DOJ and DHS inspectors general are investigating their agencies’ responses to the violence, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused the Trump of administration of sending “stormtroopers” into Portland – a remark decried by acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf as “dangerous.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney for Pennsylvania announced Friday the detention of a suspect accused of nabbing $104,000 from a Wells Fargo bank in Philadelphia during rioting and looting at the end of May in response to the death of George Floyd.
The suspect is alleged to have broken into the bank, pointed a rifle at people in the bank, and used a stolen forklift to remove a cash vault.
Fox News’ Jake Gibson contributed to this report.