Over half of the people charged by federal prosecutors for allegedly committing crimes during the rioting in Portland over the summer of 2020 have seen their charges dropped, according to court records analyzed by The Epoch Times.
Of the 90 people who prosecutors said were charged between July and October of last year, 48 saw their charges dismissed at the request of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Oregon.
The charges that prosecutors decided against pursuing included assault of a federal officer, destruction of government property, and failing to obey a lawful order.
Another 32 defendants have had their arraignments or jury trials pushed back, many multiple times. In a handful of cases, the next hearing has been delayed until 2022, as courts continue dealing with a backlog that accumulated during the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of this group is free on bail.
Four people who were charged have entered guilty pleas and six were not charged, according to court records and the U.S. Attorney’s office, which told The Epoch Times in an email that each case is handled on its own merits.
“Dismissals are very case-specific and based on our assessment of available evidence. If we do not believe we can prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt, we will dismiss the case. These decisions are being made case-by-case rather than with specific criteria or factors applied broadly across all of our cases. Our approach depends on the circumstances of the charged offense and unique characteristics of each defendant,” a spokesman for the office said.
Cases were dismissed under former U.S. Attorney Billy Williams, a Trump nominee, and acting U.S. Attorney Scott Asphaug, who was elevated to his current position upon Williams’s resignation earlier this year. President Joe Biden has yet to nominate a new U.S. attorney for the state.
Williams had spoken out forcefully against the rioters, who caused millions of dollars in damage to federal buildings. In August 2020, he called them “violent agitators” who had “hijacked any semblance of First Amendment protected activity, engaging in violent criminal acts and destruction of public safety.”
“Make no mistake: those who commit violence in the name of protest, will be investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and face prison time,” he said in a separate statement.