On the 62nd night of violent antifa riots in Portland Thursday, rioters sent a chilling message to law enforcement. Many in the crowd seemed set on having a peaceful protest, even admonishing rioters when they set fires outside the federal courthouse. Regardless, some rioters engaged in what can only be described as terrorism. They put a severed pig’s head atop an American flag on the side of the road, placed a police hat on top of it, and set it on fire.
“Antifa protesters dumped a bloody severed pig’s head on an American flag outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland. They put a cop’s hat on it and set all of it on fire,” Andy Ngo, editor-at-large at The Post Millennial, tweeted with a video.
This represented an escalation from earlier during the riots, when instigators conjured and then abandoned a pig, leaving the animal alone in downtown Portland. Police rescued the pig. “It is believed a protester was going to kill the pig as an act of anti-police protest but abandoned it last minute,” Ngo explained.
Ngo also explained that this was not the first time antifa rioters used a severed pig’s head to threaten law enforcement. “In the early weeks of the riots, a burnt pig’s head was left at the base of the now-gone elk statue. This was long before federal agents showed up outside the courthouse,” he noted.
Beside the burning pig’s head, the Thursday night riots proved relatively subdued.
Portland Police reported that “a group fo a few hundred people gathered… and gave speeches for a few hours outside the Justice Center and Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Federal Courthouse.”
“At times people lit small fires along sidewalks on surrounding blocks and attempted to light fires inside the fence at the federal courthouse,” the police reported. While setting fires inside the fence involves a clear attempt to burn down the courthouse, it appears the rioters did not use mortar fireworks, bombs, or other explosives, as they have on previous nights.
In fact, some members of the crowd even extinguished a few of the fires. “Others in the crowd put the fires out. Some people climbed on or near the fence at the federal courthouse, but others admonished them and they got down. People could be heard in the crowd repeating that the protest was to remain peaceful,” the police reported.
This represents a small step in the right direction toward a truly peaceful protest. It seems some protesters are no longer happy to act as cover for violent rioters. This does not excuse their shameful complicity in 61 nights of violent riots, but it is positive, nonetheless.
Naturally, Gov. Kate Brown (D-Ore.) rushed to declare victory, claiming that the absence of federal troops made the riot peaceful.
“Last night, the world was watching Portland. Here’s what they saw: Federal troops left downtown. Local officials protected free speech. And Oregonians spoke out for Black Lives Matter, racial justice, and police accountability through peaceful, non-violent protest,” Brown tweeted.
Ngo rebutted her claims. “Last night was less violent [than] usual because people didn’t manage to throw explosives or tear down the fence. Federal law enforcement only respond to criminal behavior,” he explained. “There were fights though & people started fires, including burning a severed pig’s head in middle of street.”
Thursday’s riot was more peaceful than most, and that is something to celebrate. But that does not erase the fact that rioters put a severed pig’s head atop an American flag, set a police hat on it, and lit the entire thing on fire. This threat against police, along with the fires lit inside the courthouse fence, gives the lie to the claim that the protests were entirely peaceful.
Portland needs law and order, not threats of violence against police. On this night, it appears the federal officers did not need to exit the federal courthouse in order to restore order. Let’s hope that continues, just without burning pig’s heads.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.