The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office on Friday announced the indictment of 38-year-old Brandon Bartells, who allegedly drove a white Sprinter van that pulled down a statue of President Theodore Roosevelt during an Oct. 11 protest in downtown Portland billed as the "Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage."
Prosecutors allege in a probable cause affidavit, filed in December in Multnomah County Circuit Court, that Bartells was among a group of about 250 protesters marching through downtown. Shortly after 8 pm, some members of the group then tied chains and straps to the Roosevelt statue and to a van, prosecutors say. When the van accelerated, the statue toppled, prosecutors say.
At 12:45 am, a Department of Homeland Security officer described in court records as "Special Agent Gino" contacted a Portland Police Bureau detective, saying he witnessed Bartells accelerate the van, causing the statue to topple.
The probable cause affidavit also alleges the same group of protesters used a van that night to topple the statue of President Abraham Lincoln. Multnomah County DA spokesman Brent Weisberg says the toppling of the Lincoln statue "remains an ongoing investigation."
A city of Portland public arts collection manager told prosecutors it will cost approximately $20,000 to repair the Roosevelt statue, and $10,000 for the Lincoln statue, court records show.
The grand jury indictment, initially filed on Feb. 9, charges Bartells with one count of riot and one count of first-degree criminal mischief.
In addition to toppling statues, a group of protesters broke into the Oregon Historical Society that evening, causing damage to the windows and carpet, according to OHS executive director Kerry Tymchuk. One person stole the Afro-American Heritage Bicentennial Commemorative Quilt, which was later located with damage after being left to soak in the rain.
The protest incurred the ire of elected officials, including Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation expressed "revulsion at the vandalism, arson, and violent acts of destruction."
The District Attorney's Office had also charged an Indiana man with riot, criminal mischief and unlawful possession of a firearm in connection with the Oct. 11 protest, alleging he used a metal baton to smash the windows of the historical society.
But the charges didn't stick. Court records show the state dismissed all charges against him on Feb. 10.