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US Authorities Say 18 Portland Protesters Face Federal Charges

FILE - Federal law enforcement officers detain a protester during a demonstration against the presence of federal law enforcement officers and racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, July 21, 2020.

The U.S. Justice Department on Friday said it had arrested 18 people and charged them with committing crimes during July anti-racism protests in Portland.

Protests have occurred nightly in downtown Portland since May 26.

In a statement, the department said all 18 had made initial appearances in federal court and were released pending jury trials or other court proceedings.

Billy Williams, the U.S. attorney for Oregon, said five people, ages 18 to 45, were charged with crimes that included assaulting a federal officer, trespassing and creating a disturbance during protests on the night of July 20-21.

Prosecutors said seven people, ages 19 to 31, were charged in connection with criminal conduct during a protest on the night of July 21-22. Those charges included arson, assaulting a federal officer and damaging government property.

Another six, ages 22-37, were charged for their alleged actions in protests during the night of July 22-23. All were charged with failing to comply with a lawful order.

All of the defendants are presumed to be local residents, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney.

The federal government has deployed teams of specially equipped agents to the Portland protests, including U.S. Marshals Service deputies and officers from the Federal Protective Service, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The presence of those federal agents has drawn criticism from Democrats and civil liberties groups about alleged excessive force and federal overreach by the Trump administration.