© AFP/Spencer Platt
People gather in protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland , July 25, 2020
After nearly 60 straight nights of violence, business owners in Portland are sick and tired of riots. But as their stores go under, the coastal media treats the rioters to glowing coverage and city authorities do nothing.

Portland is a liberal stronghold, and as 'Black Lives Matter' protests fizzle out around the country, anger remains at boiling point in the Oregonian city. The protests there have not been all banner-waving and slogan-chanting affairs though. Instead, droves of 'Antifa' types have laid siege to the city's Justice Center for almost two months, tearing down barricades, lobbing fireworks, setting fires and stabbing each other.

Most of those involved in the riots would probably say they're fighting police brutality or fascism, or something of the sort, but besides those injured in that fight there are other victims of the unrest - local business owners have repeatedly complained about the riots to the local media.

In articles published every few days, these store owners, barmen and restaurateurs describe how the riots have driven them to the brink of bankruptcy. One clothing store manager told Oregon Live on Saturday that within days of coronavirus restrictions being lifted, he reopened his family's store, only to watch rioters trash the premises in late May, days after the killing of George Floyd kicked off the season of unrest.

Other business owners told the news site that the city's usually vibrant downtown is "desolate," with tourism down and even locals giving the city center a wide berth. One bar owner shut down his watering hole in early July, after closing out one day with only $18.75 in sales.

© AFP / Nathan Howard
A protester attempts to stomp out a small fire during a protest at the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse on July 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon
"We work very hard to build our businesses and be successful and employ people, and when they come in and destroy it by breaking the window and everything else, we're the ones who have to pay for that," one Subway franchise owner told another local news outlet last week.

The police, he said, "haven't been in touch" in the two months since.

The damage is not just limited to broken windows. A jewelry store in downtown Portland was robbed in late May, with looters taking nearly a million dollars worth of jewelry. According to the family who own the store, nobody from the city or state has reached out to them.

Mayor Ted Wheeler has pinned the blame for the riots squarely on the federal agents sent in by President Trump three weeks ago to deal with the "anarchists and agitators." Wheeler claimed last Sunday that "before the federal troops got here, violence was way down, vandalism was way down," even though the courthouse had been lit on fire days before their deployment, and police had declared three riots in the week beforehand.

When Wheeler went downtown on Wednesday to hold a "listening session" with protesters, he was heckled and called a "fascist," before his own security team whisked him away. Nevertheless, he has remained insistent that any restoration of order begins with the withdrawal of federal agents.

While local news tells tales of shuttered stores and bankrupt businesses, national media outlets describe the violence in Portland as a good v evil showdown between protesters and federal "stormtroopers." As store owners told their stories to local media, the New York Times ran an article last week celebrating the "diverse elements" taking part in the protests. The "mothers in helmets," and "anti-fascist activists" are "largely peaceful," the paper wrote, describing how they have been "galvanized" by the "militarized" feds on the streets.

The Washington Post was even more effusive in its praise, describing the feds' use of tear gas as a "chemical weapon," and honoring the moms, dads, teachers and healthcare workers who refuse to disperse and willingly stride into the choking fumes. The motives of the protesters - beyond vague demands for "racial justice" - are never explained, but the Post painted a truly heroic image of one man using a leaf blower to fire gas back at the agents.

© AFP/ Spencer Platt
A 'wall of moms' protests in downtown Portland as the city experiences another night of unrest on July 25, 2020
"A man with a leaf blower strapped to his back snuffed out a lit cigarette and sighed. 'Well,' he said to himself. 'Time to get gassed again.' He revved up the machine, adjusted its straps and marched forward into the gathering fog," the Post gushed in epic fashion.

The Washington Post's story ends as the brave blower walks into the maelstrom like a doomed war hero of old. But when the Sun rises and the smoke clears, it'll be regular Portlanders sweeping away the trash, scrubbing the graffiti, and living with the consequences of an activist movement that many say has long forgotten why it started.

These citizens may be left on their own for some time by both state and federal officials, if the experience elsewhere is anything to go by. After authorities in Minneapolis ordered their police to stand down and allow rioters to trash the city in May, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz asked the Trump administration for up to half a billion dollars in aid money. The request was denied, and residents of the riot-stricken city were left to patch up their looted, broken and burned businesses as best they could.

Antifa rioters call themselves journalists to avoid federal crackdown
© AFP / Spencer Platt
People gather in protest in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in downtown Portland, July 26, 2020
Federal officers in Portland are forbidden by court order from targeting journalists filming the riots. For 'Antifa' rioters, the order opened up an opportunity: anyone with a camera can call themselves a "journalist."

With Mayor Ted Wheeler reluctant to order a police crackdown on the violence, federal officers have filled the gap. Unlike their local counterparts, these officers have had no qualms about making arrests, swinging batons, and firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the rioters.

However, a federal judge last week issued a temporary restraining order on the agents, ruling that they may not arrest, disperse or otherwise use force against reporters and legal observers covering the protests.

The order, it seems, has given the rioters an opportunity. Elijah Schaffer, a right-wing journalist reporting from Portland, described how rioters will identify themselves as "press," using the tag as cover to insult and taunt officers. Anyone with a "$40 handicam mounted on a gas station tripod," can call themselves a journalist, he said.

During Sunday night's riots, Schaffer documented how a crowd of these "fake Antifa press" pushed back against a line of officers, who then fired rubber bullets and flashbangs at the "real press."

In one video, a woman claiming to be covering the protests rages at the feds for "waving [their guns] at anybody with a press pass," before admitting that she is not in fact a reporter.

Mainstream media has not reported on these tactics. Instead, the rioters have been portrayed in glowing terms, and federal agents have been vilified for their supposed crackdown on the media.

Some of the reporters targeted have made little effort to separate themselves from the rioters. 'Defend PDX,' a self-described collective of "journalists coming together to document community based activism," openly identify themselves as allied with the mob. On the group's Twitter feed, its 'reporters' describe standing on the "front line" with rioters, scaling the security fence erected around the Justice Center and facing off with the feds.

"The sound of the sacred fence rattling is music to my ears," one Defend PDX reporter tweeted on Sunday night, before describing how the feds "barely pushed us out of the park" and warning fellow rioters to "beware of false retreats." Throughout the night's coverage, the line between observer and participant is always blurred, and often outright broken.

The 'real' press have barely been more neutral. Aside from the positive portrayal of the rioters in the Washington Post and New York Times, cable news has consistently downplayed two months of nightly violence in the Oregonian city. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough referred to the protests last Thursday as "peaceful protests, for the most part," and decried the "deeply disturbing attacks" by federal agents.

Hours before Scarborough spoke, rioters set the city's federal courthouse on fire. Two nights later, a black Trump supporter was followed and stabbed by an "Antifa dude" while walking downtown. Police who showed up to assist the victim were harassed and had their vehicles attacked by rioters.

Portland Police say Molotov cocktails & rifle magazines found

A bag discovered in a park frequented by demonstrators contained Molotov cocktails and several loaded magazines, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has reported.

The pack reportedly contained loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails. The police force shared a photo of the bag's contents on Twitter.

Reactions on social media were mixed. While some said the discovery undermines the narrative that the protesters are peaceful, others theorized that the weaponry had been planted in order to discredit the demonstrators. One reply suggested that police bodycam footage related to the incident should be released.

Earlier on Sunday, police arrested two individuals following gunfire near Lownsdale Park. One person was reportedly transported to the hospital to receive treatment for a non-lethal gunshot wound, according to local media. It's not clear if the incident was related to the discovery of the bag.

Activists have used fireworks, projectiles, lasers and other weapons to attack law enforcement protecting the city's federal courthouse.

Where are the fact checkers? Rep. Jerry Nadler claims Antifa violence in Portland is a MYTH

Congressman Jerry Nadler has been raked across the coals by social media after insisting that there is no protester-instigated violence in Portland. The lawmaker has spearheaded efforts to discredit federal police in the city.

The New York Democrat was approached by pundit and internet personality Austen Fletcher, who asked the House member if he "disavows the violence from Antifa happening in Portland right now."

"That's a myth that's being spread only in Washington, DC," Nadler responded.

Clearly amused by the lawmaker's answer, Fletched clarified: "About Antifa in Portland?"

"Yes," the NY representative shot back as he walked away.

The popular political commenter then urged Nadler to "look online" and watch videos about what's been happening in the Oregon city. "There's fires and riots. They're throwing fireworks at federal officers," he said. The congressman hurried into a waiting vehicle without responding.

For those who have been watching the nightly clashes in Portland, Nadler's denial seemed incomprehensible. Prominent podcast host and mathematician Eric Weinstein expressed exasperation over the lawmaker's comments.

"We are willing to spend all credibility to defend what can be INSTANTLY invalidated. Who came up with this policy, why does it exist, and how is anyone able to maintain it without deviating from the script?" he wrote, including a split-screen video showing Nadler's denial alongside the chaos unfolding in Portland.

Others called on CNN and other mainstream outlets usually eager to jump on any remotely misleading statements made by Donald Trump, to fact-check Nadler's provocative assertion.

Countless Twitter users responded to the video by sharing footage showing demonstrators hurling projectiles, setting fires, and participating in other activities that would normally be classified as violent.

However, some claimed that Nadler was technically correct, because many of the demonstrators were not directly affiliated with Antifa.

Although the New York lawmaker seems unconcerned by the protesters' behavior, he has been a vocal critic of federal agents sent to help restore order in Portland. Earlier this month, Nadler and two Democratic colleagues wrote a letter to the inspectors general for the Justice and Homeland Security departments, in which they called for an investigation into Trump's use of a "secret police force" to "suppress First Amendment protected activities" in the city.

Peak Portland: WATCH as BLM protester has melodramatic meltdown during protest chaos

Roughly 1,000 protesters showed up for their now-nightly battle with the mysterious, masked and 'unmarked' federal agents as the sound of fireworks and the smell of tear gas filled the air. One diva's voice stood out above the din over the weekend's protests.

The video purports to show a Portland protester complaining after apparently being pepper sprayed, claiming he and his cohort had been traded "like rats," while claiming they did "nothing," all while hitting high notes worthy of any opera singer worth their salt.

"This is what happens when you give every kid a participation trophy.... and don't spank children for bad behaviour...you create special snowflakes that have total meltdowns at the drop of a hat," wrote one Twitter user.

One commenter couldn't discern the dramatic cries and asked for subtitles, a request which was duly fulfilled, with a side of sarcasm and a touch of creative flair.

"You treat us like rats. You pepper sprayed us. We did nothing". And then I think, "my mom will be so mad I'm out this late and she'll never get the pepper spray out of my laundry. I hope she made Chef Boyardee tonight."

Elsewhere, two people were arrested following reports of gunshots as police discovered Molotov cocktails and reportedly confiscated large amounts of bleach. One person was taken to hospital for treatment of a non-lethal gunshot wound.