Statement from Attorney General William P. Barr on the Ninth Circuit’s Stay in the Case Concerning the Federal Courthouse in Portland
Attorney General William P. Barr issued the following statement on the Ninth Circuit's stay in Index Newspapers LLC, et al v. United States Marshals Service, et al:
“Last night, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Ninth Circuit entered an order temporarily blocking an injunction entered by a federal district court in Portland that imposed extensive but vaguely defined constraints on federal law enforcement personnel striving to protect the federal courthouse and surrounding areas in Portland from destruction. In practical effect, the district court’s order prevented the federal government from effectively addressing violent mobs through the general crowd-control measures that are required, and it unacceptably increased the risk of serious injury to federal law enforcement officers. The Ninth Circuit’s decision is an important step that will allow federal officers to continue carrying out their important security responsibilities without being subject to untenable conditions.
As the Department of Justice explained in our briefing, federal officers in Portland – like law enforcement in other parts of the country – have confronted aggressive mob violence. Behind the veil of “protests,” highly organized violent operators have carried out direct attacks on federal personnel and property, particularly the federal courthouse in Portland. Shielded by the crowds, which make it difficult for law enforcement to detect or reach them, violent opportunists in Portland have attacked the courthouse and federal officers with explosives, lasers, projectiles, and other dangerous devices. In some cases, purported “journalists” or “legal observers” have provided cover for the violent offenders; in others, individuals wearing supposed press badges have themselves attacked law enforcement or trespassed on federal property. More than 200 federal officers have been injured in Portland alone.
The Portland city government has the ability to stop this. Instead, the city government has abetted the violence through action and inaction, neutered the ability of the police department to deal with the mobs, impeded the ability of police to coordinate with federal law enforcement, and refused to pursue charges against the rioters. By contrast, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland has charged 74 people with federal crimes arising from the Portland riots, including arson, assaulting federal officers, and destruction of federal property. The message should be unmistakable: The First Amendment protects the rights to speak and assemble, but not to attack people or property. The Department of Justice will continue to fully and fairly enforce federal law against these violent rioters.”