Oregon U.S. Attorney Billy Williams slammed the media for refusing to condemn the “criminal,” violent riots that have plagued the city over the past few months.
U.S Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams gets irritated by biased media who refuse to accurately describe the criminal behavior of rioters trying to burn down the Portland federal courthouse. #PortlandRiots https://t.co/byBbGTaK1I pic.twitter.com/w2XnezbX86
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 30, 2020
The “protests” taking place at night aren’t peaceful, Williams said.
“These aren’t late-night demonstrations. This is criminal activity. There’s a difference,” he told reporters on the steps of the federal courthouse in Portland.
“What you have failed and the media have failed to distinguish between—you seem unwilling to call people engaged in criminal conduct as criminals, as opposed to lawful protesting.”
Williams also said the current rioters were taking advantage of the corrupt partisan politics in Oregon and other blue states to muddy the waters of traditional First Amendment protections with what might otherwise be considered domestic terrorism.
“I’m just saying there needs to be a distinction made between lawful, constitutionally protected protest, and this,” he said.
“This is unlawful,” he added. “And people, whether you’re an opportunist, an antagonist, an agitator, or an anarchist, call it out for what it is.”
Williams then directed reporters to take a look around at the vandalism and destruction that now marks the courthouse, which is where the majority of protesters’ violent demonstrations have taken place.
“Is there any justification for this? I hope not,” he said.
“I mean, Portland is losing its soul right now, and what’s coming out of City Hall, calling cops liars, that they’re the ones starting the fires and then blaming protesters,” he continued. “I mean, how ridiculous is that? That’s not leadership.”
Protesters who want to demonstrate “safely” and “work together for the changes they’re asking for in a democratic” way should have the right to do so, “but this isn’t accomplishing anything,” Williams said.
“So, what I will tell you is, this needs to stop,” he said.