A “wrestling match” ensued last Thursday night between federal officers inside the Mark O. Hatfield courthouse downtown and a handful of demonstrators tugging on the front glass door before it shattered, followed by fireworks thrown into the building, according to an affidavit filed in court Monday.
Rowan M. Olsen, 19, faces allegations of failing to obey a lawful order, disorderly conduct and creating a hazard on federal property. He pressed his body against the door to keep it shut in an attempt to prevent officers from leaving the building, according to the affidavit.
Olsen was one of seven people who appeared Monday in federal court stemming from arrests outside the courthouse through a weekend of late-night and early morning unrest.
In Olsen’s case, an unidentified person also tried to barricade the door with a piece of wood just before it shattered about 11:30 p.m., federal officers said. Once that happened, people threw objects at officers inside the doorway, including a “mortar firework” that detonated, according to David Miller, a senior special agent of the Federal Protective Service.
A deputy U.S. marshal was injured and the actions “compromised the security integrity of the Federal Courthouse,” Miller wrote in the affidavit.
As a result, the entire front entrance of the federal courthouse has now been boarded up, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Maloney told a magistrate judge.
“Defendant had a good part in that process,” Maloney said.
During his afternoon appearance in U.S. District Court, Olsen spoke out, saying he had reassessed his thinking while in custody.
He said he’d like to play a role in asking protesters “not to create more violence” but find a way to talk with officers going forward “about what needs to change rather than creating more destruction in our city.”
Judge Jolie A. Russo granted Olsen pretrial release on the conditions that he stay away from a five-mile radius around the federal courthouse and the Multnomah County Justice Center and adhere to a curfew of 8 p.m. until 6 a.m.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Alexander Penvela told investigators that Olsen was “tugging” on the front door when a second person tried to place the board in the doorway and the glass broke.
“When it became safe, an arresting team went outside and grabbed Olsen, with all of them ending up on the ground. Olsen was kicking his legs in an apparent attempt to get up and escape,” a federal complaint says. “Penvela grabbed Olsen’s legs while two other (deputy marshals) handcuffed him and carried Olsen’s upper torso. Olsen was carried into the courthouse and subsequently placed into a U.S. Marshals Service detention cell.”
Earlier in the night, a Federal Protective Services inspector had given several trespass warnings to Olsen and fired pepper balls to get him off the property, the complaint says. Olsen ran off but returned, according to the affidavit.
Olsen, in a statement from a U.S. Marshals detention cell, told federal officers that he’s a peaceful person who has been victimized by law enforcement in the past, the affidavit says. He said he believed an officer inside the courthouse pushing the door open was responsible for breaking it. He also showed officers dried blood on his fingers and scratches on his hand, which he said he sustained from being “slammed to the ground” where there was broken glass during his arrest, according to the affidavit.
He said he hadn’t heard officers’ commands to leave federal property, according to the affidavit.
Federal officials estimated it will cost at least $50,000 to repair the damage to the courthouse. In addition to fixing the door and cleaning the building’s façade and entry covered with graffiti, they must repair or replace mounted security cameras and access control devices that people have vandalized or stolen, they said.
At the time of his arrest, Olsen was on probation from September convictions in Multnomah County for aggravated harassment and criminal mischief. He was accused in May 2019 of spitting on an officer and threatening him with a skateboard while interfering with the police arrest of another man for alleged assault, according to court records.
Others who appeared in federal court Monday were accused of either shining lasers at federal officers guarding the courthouse, vandalizing a security camera posted outside the courthouse or attempting to interfere with federal arrests during the weekend.
Andrew Steve Faulkner, 24 , Taimane Jame Teo, 24, Christopher Fellini, 31, and Cody Porter, 30, are each accused of assault on a federal officer in the alleged shining of lasers on officers late Sunday into early Monday.
Raymond Kent, a U.S. Border Patrol tactical officer, said a laser was pointed at his upper body and face from from Lownsdale Park. Federal officers moved in to arrest Fellini in the park and seized a green laser emitter from Fellini after his arrest, according to a federal affidavit.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Cardani said Faulkner also was carrying a firework mortar that looked like it was “part of a potential pipe bomb,” which is still under investigation.
Each was released under orders to not possess any laser lights, firework mortars or other weapons, adhere to an 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew and to stay away from the federal courthouse and Justice Center, except to appear in court or meet with lawyers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Sussman said the curfew is an effort to curtail “the problems that have occurred with violence, vandalism, destruction and assault” primarily arising during the late-night, early-morning hours.
Shanti Singh Ahuja, 28, is accused of destruction of federal property, alleged to have vandalized a video camera on the south side of the courthouse.
Gretchen Margaret Blank, 29, is accused of interfering with federal officers. Blank allegedly assaulted an officer with a “shield” and tried to obstruct the officers from trying to arrest Faulkner, a federal affidavit says.
Officers from the U.S. Marshals Service, the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection have been at the federal courthouse during recent evening protests.
Demonstrators have voiced concerns that the federal officers, some dressed in camouflage uniforms, are firing tear gas and less-lethal munitions on protesters, undeterred by a federal judge’s temporary restraining order that restricts Portland police use of tear gas and less-lethal rounds to disperse crowds.
“The U.S. Marshals are responsible for the protection of the federal judiciary, and we take that responsibility very seriously,‘’ said Lynzey Donahue, a spokesperson from the U.S Marshals Service. “Working with our federal law enforcement partners, we will continue to investigate, arrest and prosecute those persons instigating or involved in riots, looting and other violence against persons and property involving the violation of federal law.”
Donahue said the federal agency does “not discuss our specific security measures.
“We continuously review the security measures in place and take appropriate steps to provide additional protection when it is warranted,” Donahue said in an email.
— Maxine Bernstein
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-221-8212
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