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The U.S. Attorney for Oregon unloaded on the media for being “unwilling” to call out rioters and their criminal activity in Portland’s nightly protests.
U.S. Attorney Billy Williams directly confronted reporters who interviewed him outside the Hatfield Federal Courthouse which has been surrounded by fencing to protect against the nightly attacks by far-left anarchists. Williams scolded a KGW-TV reporter and the liberal media in general for blatantly mischaracterizing the clashes that have left the federal property with reportedly more than $50,000 in damage from fire, graffiti and vandalism.
U.S Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams gets irritated by biased media who refuse to accurately describe the criminal behavior of rioters trying to burn down the Portland federal courthouse. #PortlandRiots https://t.co/byBbGTaK1I pic.twitter.com/w2XnezbX86
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 30, 2020
Williams was being asked about whether he thought the “late-night demonstrations” are taking away from the overall message of the Black Lives Matter movement, as protests initially about police reform and ending racism devolved into weeks of rioting with buildings being vandalized and burned, including the Portland Justice Center.
“These aren’t late-night demonstrations. This is criminal activity. There’s a difference,” Williams corrected the KGW reporter in a clip shared by journalist Andy Ngo on Twitter.
“What you have failed, in the media, have failed to distinguish, you seem unwilling to call people engaged in criminal conduct as criminals as opposed to lawful protesting,” Oregon’s top federal prosecutor continued.
“Well, some may argue that the way federal agents are acting is criminal too, and we’re not saying that –,” the reporter interjected.
“Well, argue away on that,” Williams responded as she insisted, “we’re not saying either.”
“So I’m just saying, there’s needs to be a distinction made between lawful, Constitutionally-protected protests and this. This is unlawful,” Williams said. “And people, whether you’re an opportunist, antagonist, an agitator or an anarchist, call it out for what it is. ”
But the reporter’s follow-up question calling the actions “late-night activity” further angered Williams who called her out for avoiding the truth.
“What I’m telling you is that you seem to refuse to call something, late-night activity — this is criminal,” he said. “Why can’t you call it out as such? “You’re using ‘late-night activity.’ It sounds like a party. It’s criminal. Look at the debris. We haven’t had a front door since July 3rd. That’s criminal, okay?”
“So, but I’m just saying, I’m not a police officer, I don’t get to distinguish that, that’s not my job,” the reporter said.
“No, but you can call it out for what it is” Williams fired back. “You’re choosing terms that sort of downplay the criminal activity and what I’m suggesting is if there is an honest accounting of what this is, that helps build the reality check for how this can stop. That’s my point.”
In a longer clip of the interview, Williams slammed the “mindless violence” as he pointed to the destroyed property around them, making a strong case for “a community solution” to the ongoing unrest, and saying that leadership is “missing right now.”
(Source: KGW News/YouTube)
“This is just mindless violence and it’s been politicized and in my view, that’s what enables this to continue because no one in their right mind thinks this is okay,” Oregon’s chief federal law enforcement official said.
He defended federal agents who had been dispatched to the city to protect federal properties, correcting the reporter who suggested their presence was political by saying “the federal agents being here are protecting federal property, that is not accurate.”
“Blaming federal agents for protecting federal property is an easy out for people who want to politicize this,” he said and, at another point, fired back when the reporter pressed him about President Trump politicizing the protests and riots.
“The politicizing of the violence is what I’m talking about, okay? I’m not going to get into a debate. I don’t walk in that lane. I walk in the law enforcement lane,” he said.
“This, look around,” he said, pointing to the damage behind him. “Do you think it’s okay? Is there any justification for this? I hope not. Portland is losing its soul right now and what’s coming out of City Hall, calling cops liars, that they’re the ones of starting the fires and then blaming protesters, I mean how ridiculous is that?”
Williams defended Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler’s decision to join protesters last week, saying he “has the right to do that,” but reiterated that federal officers have been “following a training and protocols” in their protection of property.
“So, how long this goes on?” he responded when asked about the “status quo” of the protests which have besieged Portland for more than 50 straight nights. “You have to ask the community how long they’re willing to tolerate this mindless violence, because this doesn’t promote the cause of protesters, it just destroys property.”
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