The man, 26-year-old Donavan La Bella, suffered a fractured skull and required facial reconstruction surgery after he was apparently hit in the head with a less than deadly ammunition, his mother told the Oregonian.
The round was reportedly canceled by federal agents, who have been sent to Portland as part of President Trump’s crackdown on destructive protests, a fact that has become a flashpoint for local officials who are already breaking feds sent without their consent. On Sunday, many blamed Trump̵
“The consequences of Donald Trump unilaterally sending law enforcement officers to US cities played out in Portland w / a peaceful protest shot in the head,” tweeted later. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). “Trump & Homeland Security must now answer why born officers act as an occupation army.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) demanded federal agents in Portland begin to follow local regulations, which prohibit police from shooting tear gas or less than deadly rounds unless life is in danger.
“I am worried that federal officers’ escalation, rather than escalation, has already escalated tensions in our city,” Wheeler said in a statement on Sunday.
The U.S. Marshals Service said Sunday that it is investigating the incident, which happened while officers “secured the perimeter of the federal court,” according to a statement sent to The Washington Post. The Department of Homeland Security, which also has agents at Portland’s protests, did not respond to a request for comment late Sunday.
When protests against police brutality and racial equality have gripped the nation since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Portland has become a strenuous staging of nightly battles between protesters, police and right-wing groups. DHS recently sent officers from more than half a dozen agencies and departments to Portland to drop the demonstrations, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
As the AP reported, the role is unusual for an agency built in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, focusing on preventing foreign attacks. The federal surge to Portland comes because Trump has promised a strong response to protesters who scare monuments and other property. Trump boasted last week about the federal presence in Oregon’s largest city.
“It was out of control,” Trump said of Portland to acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday, the AP reported. “The locals couldn’t handle it and you people handle it very nicely.”
It’s not as local officials saw it. Portland Deputy Police Chief Chris Davis told the AP that the feds do not coordinate with his agency, and complained “it complicates things for us” to have them on the streets.
On Saturday night, officers from the Marshals Service stood outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, which has become a nexus for protesters. La Bella was standing in a park across the street as officers began shooting, his friends told Oregon Public Broadcasting.
“He’s been really violent the whole time he’s been down there,” Elton Rosas said of La Bella. “He helps to scale down situations. Of all people, he is one of the nicest kids you will ever meet. “
The video shows La Bella’s head jerking back when he hit. Other protesters rushed to his aid, and another graphic video shows blood being collected from his forehead as they carry his limp body away. Desiree La Bella, his mother, told the Oregonian on Sunday that he needed surgery.
“He still has a tube in his skull to lose blood,” she said, adding that he was awake and able to move the limbs, but showed signs of confusion and had vision problems.
Local and state politicians reacted with fury to the role of federal agents in the incident.
“The events of last night in federal court were the tragic and avoidable outcome of President Donald Trump for several weeks, who continued to advocate violence and violence in response to protests,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) said in a statement. “The cycle of violence must end.”
Portland Commissioner Chloe Eudaly blasted the officers’ “reckless and unforgivable behavior.”
“It is unfortunate that Trump cares more about protecting monuments and buildings than he does people’s lives and constitutional rights,” Eudaly told the Oregonian. “We do not invite or ask for this excessive federal government intervention.”
Another city commissioner, Jo Ann Hardesty, urged the feds to leave Portland.
“We’ve had more than enough,” she tweeted. “The federal troops must retreat immediately, and after that we have the difficult task of picking up the pieces and responding to what the public and this movement are asking us.”