Portland federal officers may have been permanently blinded by lasers, officials say

Portland officers may not recover their vision after being blinded with lasers and fireworks by rioters.

According to officials, at least three federal officers in Portland may be permanently blinded after large crowds of demonstrators shined lasers in their eyes and threw fireworks at a federal courthouse, FOX News reports.

What’s more, a protester even threatened to cut off the water supply to federal officers inside the courthouse during the Monday demonstration. Rioters also vandalized the building and set several fires in the area.

Image credits: AP/Noah Berger

At a Tuesday press conference, Federal Protective Service (FPS) Deputy Director of Operations Richard ‘Kriss’ Cline said that a crowd of more than a thousand ‘rioters’ surrounded the Hatfield Federal Courthouse. The protesters began removing plywood coverings before attempting to throw objects through the windows at federal officers inside. Furthermore, at least three officers were severely injured and may not be able to fully recover their vision after the attack. One of them was struck by a gas bottle thrown by rioters. Mr. Cline explained:

“When officers responded to put out these fires, glass bottles were thrown and lasers – which can cause permanent blindness – were shined in their eyes. We have three officers who currently have eye injuries and they may not recover sight in those eyes from those laser attacks.”

As a safety measure for further protests, the FPS has purchased anti-laser glasses for the federal officers. 

While demonstrators were aiming lasers into the officers’ eyes, a group went further and used a strobe light on the Hatfield Courthouse. Others fired a commercial-grade mortar firework in dangerously close proximity to the building.

To halt the Monday night’s attacks, officers used paper balls and tear gas against the rioters. After the unrest, seven people were arrested, including two for alleged assaults on federal officers. The other five were taken into custody for noncompliance with lawful directions.

Prior to the attacks on the night of July 20, the ‘violent anarchists’ had also wrecked the perimeter fencing around the courthouse, the Department of Homeland Security claims.

Another safety measure FPS Cline said would be taken is removing the names of federal officers from their uniforms, and replacing them with their badge numbers. This became a necessary precaution after nearly 40 law enforcement officers had become victims of doxing.

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