Video Shows Federal Officers Flinging Tear Gas Canisters Into Portland Crowd

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty responds to the shooting of a demonstrator: “This never should have happened.”

Bloodstains on the sidewalk from where a protester was shot in the head July 11 with a police munition. (Sergio Olmos)

Federal officers repeatedly lobbed tear gas canisters into crowds of protesters surrounding the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Saturday night, hours after hitting a demonstrator in the head with a projectile.

City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty this afternoon issued a grave condemnation of the presence and actions of federal officers deployed to Portland by President Donald Trump to quell an uprising.

"Their presence brought on an escalation of violence towards protesters—an extreme response to a movement challenging police violence," Hardesty said. "This reckless and aggressive behavior has now put someone in the hospital. This protester is still fighting for their life, and I want to be clear: This should never have happened. If this continues, a life will be taken and it won't matter whether a federal officer or Portland police officer did it—it won't bring that person back."

Hardesty joins Commissioner Chloe Eudaly in condemning the federal action. Mayor Ted Wheeler declined comment July 10. Later on Sunday, he issued a careful call for federal officers to deescalate. 

Video taken by reporter Sergio Olmos shows that on three occasions Saturday night, officers in the doorway of the federal courthouse flung canisters of tear gas into a crowd gathered along Southwest 2nd Avenue.

"If you follow officers onto the curb, you will be gassed," an officer told protesters on a loudspeaker. "You will not get a warning."

The three large-scale uses of tear gas followed the shooting of a protester with a munition earlier in the evening.

Video showed the protester, Donavan LaBella, bleeding from his head. Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that LaBella, 26, subsequently underwent facial reconstruction surgery Saturday night in a Portland hospital.

Bloodstains from the incident were still visible on the 2nd Avenue sidewalk Sunday afternoon.

The injuring of LaBella further escalates tensions in a city that has already seen 45 consecutive nights of street protests against police brutality.

On Sunday afternoon, mayoral candidate Sarah Iannarone blamed Wheeler for the violence. "I challenge anyone to watch these videos and contain their anger," she said a statement. "Like any human being witnessing this violence, I am outraged. I, and the people of Portland, demand to know why Ted Wheeler is allowing Trump's Border Patrol to abuse people in our sanctuary city."

Hardesty said federal officers were escalating a standoff that Portland police had created.

"It is our police force that has been responding violently to protesters before the federal troops entered the stage," she wrote. "If Portland will not lead in deescalating the situation, then the federal troops will take the lead, and we have already seen how dangerous that will be for Portlanders exercising their First Amendment rights."

Willamette Week’s reporting has concrete impacts that change laws, force action from civic leaders, and drive compromised politicians from public office. Support WW's journalism today.