Rioters carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs threw Bibles into a fire in front of the federal courthouse in Portland and burned an American flag, leaving bystanders wondering what that act of arson had to do with protesting against police brutality.
“People began starting a fire in the street in front of the federal courthouse which started with burning a Bible, then an American flag, until more and more items were added,” according to KOIN reporter Danny Peterson. “Finally around 1 a.m. (Saturday), yellow-clad members of the group Moms United for Black Lives Matter went over to the fire and put it out with bottles of water and stamped it out.”
“Left-wing activists bring a stack of Bibles to burn in front of the federal courthouse in Portland,” Ian Cheong, managing editor of Human Events, wrote in a post with a video that shows Bibles being tossed into a fire. “Do not be under the illusion that these protests and riots are anything but an attempt to dismantle all of Western Civilization and upend centuries of tradition and freedom of religion.”
Donald Trump Jr. reacted to videos of the incidents shared on social media, saying, “Now we move to the book-burning phase. I’m pretty sure ANTIFA doesn’t actually stand for what they say it stands for. Maybe just remove the ‘anti’ part of [their] name and it’s perfect.”
Riots in Portland have been ongoing since the May 25 death of George Floyd, who was killed while in police custody in Minneapolis. President Donald Trump sent federal law enforcement to Portland to protect federal buildings and crack down on violence.
After "repeated requests" from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, the federal government "agreed to a phased withdrawal of federal officers," which began this week. Brown said the federal officers had acted as an "occupying force" and "brought violence and strife to our community."
The Department of Homeland Security said Saturday that violence is abating and their "enhanced presence on the ground will remain for the time being until the Department determines that the courthouse and other federal property are safe."
On Friday, 18-year-old Gabriel Agard-Berryhill was charged in a criminal complaint for allegedly throwing an explosive device into the entrance of the federal courthouse in Portland.
“No legitimate protest message is advanced by throwing a large explosive device against a government building,” U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams said, according to Fox News. “Mr. Agard-Berryhill’s actions could have gravely injured law enforcement officers positioned near the courthouse, other protesters standing nearby, or himself.”
Russel Burger, a U.S. Marshal for the District of Oregon, stated, “The violent opportunists engaged in dangerous acts of violence, such as arson, need to realize there will be grave consequences. Serious crimes of this nature go beyond mere property damage to the courthouse and endanger people’s lives.”