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Multnomah County Justice Center, Set Aflame Friday, Resumes Hearings Tomorrow

The courtrooms have “an odor of smoke” and the basement parking lot is flooded from sprinklers.

The Multnomah County Justice Center, which sustained smoke and water damage after being set on fire by protesters late Friday night, will resume hearings tomorrow, June 1.

The online court docket shows arraignments scheduled for many of the protesters arrested over the weekend during demonstrations mourning the death of George Floyd, which at some points turned violent as demonstrators destroyed property and Portland police officers employed forceful tactics like lobbing flash-bangs into crowds and spraying tear gas.

Hearings will be closed to the public, partly because the X-ray equipment in the lobby has been damaged. Attorneys representing defendants will still be allowed inside beginning tomorrow, trial court administrator Barbara Marcille wrote to courtroom staff Sunday in an email, which was obtained by WW.

"The courtrooms are in working order. There is an odor of smoke but the county is doing their best to clean and ventilate, and we hope that by tomorrow it will be much improved," Marcille wrote. "Judges who ordinarily park at the Justice Center will not be able to park there tomorrow as the basement garage has standing water remaining from the fire sprinklers, and is also locked down."

Video captured by WW photographer Alex Wittwer on Friday night shows protesters smashing in the windows of the Justice Center and setting fires in office cubicles.

Marcille wrote in the email that the building is boarded up and the surrounding block is barricaded off. Forty to 50 police officers in "full riot response gear" are surrounding the building.

Meanwhile, the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office believes transferring defendants by van to the Multnomah County Courthouse at 1021 SW 4th Ave. for hearings would be too dangerous, she noted.

"The main courthouse is accessible, and the graffiti is being pressure washed away. Hopefully it won't get retagged tonight. The destruction to businesses in the area is alarming and sad," Marcille wrote.

"MCSO believes that transporting inmates to the main courthouse for arraignments tomorrow will introduce too many risks and is not feasible."