Guest Opinion: Would We Defend Our Courthouse From Riots And Firebombing?


August 5, 2020 | View PDF

We should tolerate firebombing federal courthouses in Portland no more than we would tolerate firebombing the law and justice center in Sidney. Both house our courtrooms. We bring our cases to both places.

Remember the irrigation case? It would have abolished irrigation here. We were heard before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in one of the federal courthouses in Portland. We won a reversal in that building that saved our way of life.

That is not an isolated case. I took an appeal for Richland County to defend our county revenues against oil companies and railroads. We were heard before the Ninth Circuit in a federal courthouse in Portland. We won a reversal in that building which saved resources for the betterment of our community.

Those are our cases in our courthouses.

What happens when riots attack the courthouse for more than two months? The courts cannot do their business. The business is our business. It is our cases, our irrigation, our county revenues. The riots are against us.

Suppose all the things that are happening at the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in Portland were happening at our law and justice center that houses our district court, youth court, justice court, and small claims court? Our state court cases go there. Our federal court appeals go to Portland and San Francisco.

Would we defend our law and justice center against pipe bombs, improvised explosive devices, Molotov cocktails, commercial mortar fireworks, flares, and other incendiaries? We would stop rioters from trapping people inside the building and trying to set it on fire? Would we accept outside law enforcement help if our local law enforcement was outnumbered and facing projectiles of concrete, brick, metal, glass, wood, rocks, and frozen water bottles? Would we accept police tactical responses to attacks with bleach, hockey sticks, golf clubs, power tools, sledge hammers, metal spikes, and lasers. In Portland alone, three officers have been blinded permanently by rioters using lasers.

The explosion of one device that struck the front door of the Hatfield courthouse was both heard and felt over a block away. Suppose you heard that and felt it in Sidney. What would you think is the right response?

What is all this rioting adding up to? A local television station’s website in the Twin Cities catalogued the destroyed buildings in just those two cities documenting names and addresses. So far it is over 1500. Businesses have been ruined permanently. Jobs have been lost permanently. Neighborhoods have become uninsurable and unpoliceable. In Seattle’s CHAZ/CHOP rebellion, innocent bystanders have been shot. Some have been killed. Emergency medical responders were prevented from serving. Citizens had to improvise transport to a hospital.

It is time for us to stop looking at this as somebody else’s problem in a faraway place. This is our problem, our business, and our responsibility. It is our courthouse where we conduct our business and where our judiciary maintains our free republic. Burn down the courts and you won’t have a country.


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