Feds begin prosecuting rioters in Portland

Federal prosecutors have started filing civil disorders charges against violent protesters in Portland, Oregon. They are filing the charges under a federal statute enacted in 1968 in response to the rioting of that era.

It’s interesting, I think, that the Congress that passed this statute was controlled by Democrats. In 1968, the GOP was outnumbered in both chambers to a much greater degree than it is now.

Back then, Democrats were serious about stopping riots. These days, they prefer to give rioters space to destroy. That space is turning out to be wherever the hell they please.

In Portland, the following three people have been charged by the feds under the 1968 law:

A 38 year-old Seattle man, Jesse Herman Bates, is accused of launching a ball bearing with a slingshot during a downtown demonstration in July and striking a Portland Fire Bureau medic.

A Portland woman, 31 year-old Michelle Peterson O’Connor, is accused of throwing a helmet that struck a police sergeant in the head last week outside the Police Bureau’s North Precinct.

A Kelso man, Krystopher Michael Donnelly age 27, is accused of repeatedly using a hammer to strike the glass above the front door of the Police Bureau’s East Precinct and elbowing an officer in the face in early August and then throwing frozen eggs and other objects at police three days later outside the Penumbra Kelly Building on East Burnside Street.

The Oregonian reports that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Portland is reviewing other cases for possible prosecution. In addition, charges have been filed under the same statute in half a dozen other cities, according to the Oregonian.

Leftists, and some conservatives, object to the feds becoming involved. They reason that if the violence in question isn’t directed against federal property or federal officers, prosecution should be left to state and local authorities under statutes and ordinances that prohibit specific behavior — e.g., assault and arson — even though the actions of the rioters often aren’t garden variety instances of assault and arson.

I don’t seem to hear this kind of objection from leftists when the Justice Department gets involved under federal civil rights statutes in cases involving violence against Blacks that local prosecutors are fully capable of prosecuting.

I’m sympathetic, nonetheless, to concern over federal involvement in local criminal matters. But the 1968 statute is on the books and, in my view, should be used when local authorities aren’t adequately protecting the rights that statute is intended to vindicate — as seems to be the situation in Portland.

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