Portland Protesters Have Caused $2.3 Million in Damage to Federal Buildings

The cleaning and repair bill for federal buildings in Portland damaged during protests in the city last summer exceeded $2 million, Oregon's attorney has revealed. Portland saw widespread protests beginning in May following the killing of Black man George Floyd while in police custody.

Protests continued throughout the summer and into the fall, with most passing peacefully. However, incidents of looting and vandalism were reported and police used tear gas and to disperse crowds.

The Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse, which was a flashpoint for the protests, was among the buildings to suffer damage.

U.S. Attorney Billy Williams told OregonLive the city's cleanup bill amounted to $2.3 million, including repairs to the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse as well as the Edith Green-Wendall Wyatt Federal Building, the Gus J. Solomon U.S. Courthouse, the Pioneer Courthouse and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building.

Williams said the work to repair the federal properties would be ongoing.

To put the cleanup bill into context, the City of Portland's police budget in 2019/20 amounted to more than $230 million and officials allocated more than $250 million to be spent on parks and recreation over the same period.

Portland was not alone in the demonstrations that were held, with towns and cities around the world seeing people take to the streets to rally against racial injustice and police brutality.

But the city's mayor, Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, drew national media attention for his role in the protests. Wheeler publicly clashed with the then-president, Donald Trump, on the deployment of federal officers and ordered Portland police not to use tear gas on demonstrators on September 9.

The same month, Trump described Portland as an "anarchist's dream" where "the people are starting to go wild" and claimed protesters were using canned food such as soup and tuna as weapons during demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice.

That followed after Portland Police had earlier in the year tweeted a photo showing what they said were "items recovered that were thrown at officers," including "full beverage cans, bricks, bottles, rocks, food."

Riot police march
Riot police march as they try to disperse protesters in Portland, Oregon on November 4, 2020, during a demonstration called by the "Black Lives Matter" movement, a day after the US Presidential Election. Protests were held in the city throughout 2020. KATHRYN ELSESSER/AFP via Getty Images

A report from July 2020 claimed businesses had also lost more than $2 million in the preceding weeks as protests closed down parts of the city, although it was unclear to what extent those losses were a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

And according to data obtained by KATU News, the Portland Police Bureau spent $6.9 million on overtime in June and July, a marked increase compared to the same time period a year earlier, when police spent $2.3 million.

Police in the city said they dealt with a protest as recently as New Year's Eve when officers declared a riot after a gathering in the city's downtown became violent. People were ordered to leave the area or face arrest and the possible use of force.

"Participants have thrown multiple firebombs at officers and launched commercial grade fireworks at the Federal Courthouse and Justice Center," the department tweeted.

Newsweek contacted the City of Portland for comment.