US Attorney: Most Portland Rioters Won't Be Prosecuted Security personnel stand in a cloud of tear gas in Portland, Oregon early July 26, 2020. (Ankur Dholakia/AFP via Getty Images)
Monday, 03 May 2021 07:17 PM
Of the 97 people arrested in Portland, Ore., for rioting last year, 58 have been dismissed or on track to be dismissed, Fox News reports.
Between May 25 and Oct. 7, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon filed the federal charges over unrest in the city. Seven people have entered guilty pleas, but many of the 32 cases still pending are likely to end in dismissal, Fox said, citing source close to the matter.
Only one of those who pleaded guilty is set to go to prison. Edward Schinzing was caught on video setting fire to the Justice Center without his shirt and with his name tattooed on his back showing.
Schinzing's plea deal calls for him to serve a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for arson.
"It’s offensive to all the men and women who risked their lives in Portland for 90 to 120 days or even longer in some cases, being attacked night after night after night, Chad Wolf, acting Secretary of Homeland Security under President Trump, told Fox.
The Oregon U.S. Attorney's Office probably had too big a caseload to handle all the prosecutions, former federal prosecutor Alex Little said.
"The prosecutors in that office, the number of prosecutors, that support, even the courthouse system, isn’t really set up to handle those sorts of numbers," he said.
But Lisa Hay, the federal public defender in Oregon, disagreed.
"I think the federal government went overboard in some of the ways they addressed these protests," she said. "And what we’re seeing now is many of the cases that were brought because of the federal government’s overreach are now being dismissed."
Nineteen of the 31 deferred resolution agreements signed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland were for felonies. Most were for alleged assaults on federal officers sent to protect federal buildings.
Billy Williams, President Donald Trump’s appointed U.S. attorney in Oregon, signed some of the actions, while others were signed by Scott Asphaug, acting U.S. Attorney in Oregon since President Joe Biden fired all of Trump's appointees.
Wolf said Williams pushed back against filing many charges, saying that protests were normal in Portland and that doing so might only inflame the situation.
Neither Williams nor Asphaug commented to Fox on the issue, but Kevin Sonoff, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Oregon, issued a statement reading, "Dismissals are very case-specific and based on our assessment of available evidence. If we do not believe we can prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt, we will dismiss the case."
Mayor Ted Wheeler eventually decided to make efforts to control the rioters after months of attempts to work with them failed.