Protesters set fire to Multnomah County headquarters
Multnomah County Commissioner Deborah Kafoury blamed a "small group of protesters" for vandalizing and setting fire to the county headquarters building at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge late Tuesday.
According to Kafoury, the area damaged is "where people in our community come to get married, get their passports and celebrate their cultural traditions and diversity." It is where the first gay marriage in the county was performed, and where personal protective equipment is being distributed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Kafoury issued her statement after Portland police declared a riot around 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 and dispersed the protesters, who had marched to the building at Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and Grand Avenue from Colonel Summers Park in Southeast Portland.
According to police, some in the crowd repeatedly vandalized the building before breaking a window, throwing in burning material and fueling the fire with lighter fluid. The fire set off the alarm and sprinkler system.
According to police, the crowd also threw objects at police and police vehicles. Two people were arrested.
Kafoury's statement did not specifically criticize the protesters who damaged the building. Instead, it acknowledged grave injustice in the world and a violent and tragic history of oppression in Multnomah County. Kafoury said she was committed to "transformational change," and called for the community to work together.
Here is Kafoury's complete statement:
"Tonight, the Multnomah County Building, the headquarters for the largest safety net provider in Oregon, was vandalized and set on fire by a small group of protesters.
"This is the heart of our county, where people in our community come to get married, get their passports and celebrate their cultural traditions and diversity.
"A small group set fire to the Office of Community Involvement, a space dedicated to engaging community members who have been marginalized by the traditional political process.
"The lobby where the first same-sex marriage in Oregon took place, and where millions of pieces of personal protective equipment are being distributed to help our community battle COVID-19, was damaged.
"I acknowledge that there is grave injustice in our world and there is a violent and tragic history of oppression in our county. I am committed to transformational change.
"And I ask the community to work with us: support the critical work we do every day leading the public health response to COVID-19, providing thousands of meals to families in need, answering mental health crisis calls and serving those experiencing domestic violence.
"In such a difficult, uncertain time, our community needs all of us to work together."
KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story with video can be found here.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.