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Tipsheet

DOJ Has Dropped Dozens of Cases Against Portland Rioters

AP Photo/Noah Berger

The  Department of Justice has been quietly dropping dozens of charges against violent rioters in Portland.

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Local KGW8 has the story

Federal prosecutors have dismissed more than one-third of cases stemming from last summer’s violent protests in downtown Portland, when protesters clashed with federal agents. KGW reviewed federal court records and found 31 of the 90 protest cases have been dismissed by the U.S. Department of Justice, including a mix of misdemeanor and felony charges.

Some of the most serious charges dropped include four defendants charged with assaulting a federal officer, which is a felony. More than half of the dropped charges were "dismissed with prejudice," which several former federal prosecutors described as extremely rare. “Dismissed with prejudice” means the case can’t be brought back to court.

Why is this happening?

In a recent interview with KGW, [Billy] Williams [then-U.S. Attorney for Oregon] explained the cases were dismissed in instances where prosecutors didn’t believe they could prove a case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Each case was analyzed for the evidence that we had at the time," said Williams. "Careful decisions were made on whether or not someone should be charged based on the evidence."

Williams explained decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.

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As a reminder, the Portland federal courthouse was under heavy siege for weeks on end last summer. Rioters used industrial grade fireworks to attack federal agents. They attempted to cement doors of the courthouse shut in order to trap agents inside and burn them alive. Many have permanent vision damage from lasers used against them. 

"The firework came whizzing over the fence so fast that the agent didn’t have time to move. It exploded with a boom, leaving his hearing deadened and bloody gashes on both forearms. Stunned, with help from his cohorts, he stripped to his boxer shorts and a black T-shirt so his wounds could be examined and photographed for evidence. He told his fellow agents he was more worried about his hearing than about the gouges and burns on his arms," the Associated Press reported about one night of chaos. "By the end of the night, five other federal agents would be injured, including another who got a concussion when he was hit in the head with a commercial-grade firework. One agent was hospitalized. Several agents have lingering vision problems from the lasers."

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