Multnomah Building Vandalized, Set On Fire

Demonstrators attacked the Multnomah Building in Portland Tuesday night breaking windows and starting a fire inside that triggered the sprinkler system.

Portland Police released this account of what happened:

In the evening hours of August 18, 2020, a group of several hundred people gathered in Colonel Sumners Park located on the 1800 block of Southeast Taylor Street for a march that began around 9 p.m. The march proceeded west to the 500 block of Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard which is where the Multnomah Building is located. During the march, streets were blocked to vehicular traffic by support vehicles associated with the group.

When the group reached the Multnomah Building, they blocked traffic on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard at Southeast Grand Avenue. Several people in the crowd were seen carrying shields and wearing helmets and gas masks. Many of the group members began to vandalize the Multnomah Building with graffiti. Around 10 p.m., several people started a large dumpster fire near Southeast 6th Avenue and Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard. Another fire was started in a dumpster and the dumpster was then rolled towards the southwest side of the Multnomah Building by members of the group. During this time, small fires were lit outside of the Multnomah Building and people in the group began cracking the glass windows of the building. Several windows were cracked, and some windows were broken completely open when group members threw large rocks at them.

At 10:15 p.m., members in the group started throwing ignited paper inside of the Multnomah Building in an attempt to start a fire. When this did not work, members of the group began spraying lighter fluid inside of the building. After spraying lighter fluid inside of the building, someone in the crowd threw a large burning object inside of the building. This action created a fire big enough to set the fire alarms and sprinkler system off inside of the building.

Because the crowd blocked traffic, started several dumpster fires, vandalized the building not limited to graffiti but also broke windows, and successfully started a fire inside the building, the gathering was declared a riot. Several public address announcements were made to the crowd, informing them a riot had been declared and they needed to disperse immediately to the north. The crowd was informed that if they failed to disperse it could result in citation or arrest, those who did not disperse would also be subjected to tear gas, crowd control munitions, or impact weapons. Despite several warnings, the crowd remained outside of the Multnomah Building.

At 10:32 p.m., Portland Police officers began dispersing the crowd. As the crowd was dispersed, officers were hit with projectiles. Around 11:26 p.m., the crowd began walking back towards the Multnomah Building. Once again several public address announcements were made to the crowd reminding them a riot had been declared. Again, Portland Police began dispersing the crowd, during the dispersal, a member of the crowd threw a rock at the sound truck. During dispersals, an officers sustained a minor injury.

Around 12:25 a.m., the group marched back to Colonel Sumners Park and soon after dispersed from the area.

Two arrests were made during the event. 23-year-old Jesse Hawk was arrested and charged with riot, interfering with a peace officer, resisting arrest, unlawful use of a weapon (two charges), assaulting a public safety officer (two charges), harassment (two charges), disorderly conduct II, and attempt escape. 40-year-old Peter Curtis was arrested and charged with attempt criminal mischief I, and reckless endangering.

Some crowd control munitions were used during dispersal. No CS gas was used.

Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese released this statement:

“The unprovoked actions by those who engaged in criminal behavior is reprehensible,” Sheriff Mike Reese said. “It is simply violence and serves no legitimate purpose. It does nothing to solve the issues our community faces.”

Statement from Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury:

Tonight, the Multnomah County Building, the headquarters for the largest safety net provider in Oregon, was vandalized and set on fire by a small group of protestors.

This is the heart of our County, where people in our community come to get married, get their passports, and celebrate their cultural traditions and diversity.

A small group set fire to the Office of Community Involvement, a space dedicated to engaging community members who have been marginalized by the traditional political process.

The lobby where the first same-sex marriage in Oregon took place, and where millions of pieces of personal protective equipment are being distributed to help our community battle COVID-19, was damaged.

I acknowledge that there is grave injustice in our world and there is a violent and tragic history of oppression in our County. I am committed to transformational change.

And I ask the community to work with us: support the critical work we do every day leading the public health response to COVID-19, providing thousands of meals to families in need, answering mental health crisis calls and serving those experiencing domestic violence.

In such a difficult, uncertain time, our community needs all of us to work together.