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Press Release

Portland Resident Charged with Arson After Lighting Fires at the Justice Center During a Protest

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that a Portland, Oregon, resident has been charged with setting fire to the plywood and awnings on the Justice Center building that houses the Multnomah County Detention Center (MCDC) and Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) headquarters and Central Precinct.

Cyan Waters Bass, 21, has been charged by criminal complaint with arson.

According to court documents, during protest events on the evening of September 23, 2020, law enforcement officers conducting surveillance for unlawful activity during protests observed an individual, later identified as Cyan Waters Bass, walking near the Justice Center. Bass was observed dressed in a black jacket, dark pants, with a black cloth face covering, carrying a black backpack with a black baseball cap attached to it. During the evening, officers saw Bass holding a crowbar and using a slingshot or wrist-rocket to shoot projectiles through the windows of the PPB Central Precinct portion of the building. Officers later collected a white marble from within the Central Precinct. Officers observed Bass as he used a container to squirt a liquid on the plywood covering windows on a section of the north side of the building several times and lit it on fire. Officers observed the fire catch and spread to an awning on the building. Bass was later observed walking on the east side of the building near the entrance to PPB’s Central Precinct where Bass again squirted a liquid on the plywood that covered sections of the building. Bass then lit the plywood on fire that quickly spread to the awning above which scorched the plywood and concrete and damaged the awning.

Officers maintained observation of Bass until he was located and arrested the same evening. Bass was found in possession of white marbles in his pocket and a clear bottle with an unknown liquid, a black crowbar, a black slingshot, two lighters and a black baseball cap.

The Justice Center is owned by both Multnomah County and the City of Portland. The Justice Center houses the Multnomah County Detention Center which during this time had 268 persons being held. This building also houses the headquarters of the Portland Police Bureau and Central Precinct. Both of these jurisdictions receive federal funding including related to this location which on this date was housing 25 federal inmates held in custody on exclusively federal matters.

Cyan Waters Bass made an initial appearance on the complaint in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. Bass pleaded not guilty and was ordered released pending an arraignment on Thursday December 3 following a grand jury proceeding.

The Portland Police Bureau and ATF investigated this case. It is being prosecuted by Parakram Singh, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated October 6, 2020