Portland police tonight reported someone set off a Molotov cocktail at the World Trade Center on SW Salmon, causing fire damage to a staircase but no injuries—and that maybe, even though it's still technically "unconfirmed," someone at Occupy Portland might be involved.

Police, in a news release, say they received "unconfirmed information" way back on October 31 that an unknown occupier might be building or storing the incendiary devices. Emails obtained by the Mercury yesterday, in fact, show the bureau was prepared to go public with that information as early as November 3 but decided against it, apparently at the behest of investigators. The release that the bureau drafted then, interestingly, looks much like the one they sent tonight. Would more information have turned up sooner, before an attack, if those concerns had been announced?


The bureau told the Oregonian that potential mayoral candidate Chief Mike Reese has been apprised, and that Reese is telling Mayor Sam Adams—who just a day ago warned occupiers that he wanted swift corrective action on safety issues or else he'd... well, he didn't get that far.

Update 12:10 AM: Lieutenant Robert King, police spokesman, confirmed that Reese is extremely concerned and "indicated that we will bring the resources to bear that are necessary to result in an arrest and prosecution in this case."

King said it was theoretically "possible" that an attack could have been avoided if word was sent out sooner, but that investigators hadn't finished their work on the initial case until Tuesday—having "worked it as far as they could." (Also, announcing the worries early, to be fair, would probably have opened up the city to more criticism that it's slowly piling on Occupy Portland.)

"The investigator informed me today that the release asking for the public's help would be fruitful," King said. "It would have gone out tomorrow if this had not happened."/end update

But now? It's another weight—and a potentially heavy one if it's actually confirmed—on the scale Adams has used to balance freedom of speech protections against ire from the business community, some police officials and some of his fellow city commissioners. The O, in an editorial published tonight before this bit of news, already declared "time's up" on Occupy and crapped all over Adams, calling him "Occupy's best friend." So we'll see.

Jordan LeDoux, an Occupy Portland media volunteer, stressed that the Occupy link was unconfirmed, and noted that the attack happened during the end of the camp's nightly general assembly, but condemned the attack no matter who might be behind it.

"The people who have actually participated in our protests have reiterated more than a dozen times that we're not interested in destroying property," he said.

Update 1 AM: At least one Occupy source friendly with some of the encampment's more radical residents has told me, after checking in with some of them, that news of the attack was "surprising" and, based on the target, may have been perpetrated by "someone who wanted to create bad press." That would echo shenanigans this weekend when, after some bank windows were broken in Northeast, someone claiming to represent an Occupy splinter group falsely claimed responsibility for the vandalism.

The cops' news release is after the cut.

Posted: November 8th, 2011 10:39 PM

Tonight, Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 9:10 p.m. Portland Police officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to a call of a Molotov Cocktail being set off at the World Trade Center, 121 Southwest Salmon.

Arson investigators have been called to the scene and as it is an active and ongoing investigation no additional details are available at this time.

On Monday October 31, 2011 Portland Police received unconfirmed information that a person or people within the Occupy Portland encampments at Chapman and Lownsdale Square Parks may be constructing or have constructed Molotov Cocktails.

Generally, a Molotov cocktail is a glass bottle filled with a flammable liquid such as gasoline, with a rag or cloth sticking out of the bottle as a wick. Once the wick is ignited, the person holding the Molotov cocktail throws it, breaking the glass and spreading the ignited fluid.

While it's important to note that this information about Molotov Cocktails being kept in Occupy Portland is unconfirmed, Portland Police Bureau investigators are working to learn more about this information and are asking for the public's help.

The storage and/or construction of Molotov cocktails represents a significant public safety threat of injury.

Anyone with information about Molotov Cocktails being stored or constructed within Occupy Portland encampments at Chapman and Lownsdale Square Parks is urged to immediately report this information to the Portland Police Bureau Detective Joe Luiz at 503-823-3408 or email Joseph.Luiz@portlandoregon.gov and/or contact:

Crime Stoppers is offering a cash reward of up to $1,000 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in this case, or any unsolved felony, and you can remain anonymous. Call Crime Stoppers at 503-823-HELP (4357), leave a tip online at www.crimestoppersoforegon.com, or text CRIMES (274637) and in the subject line put 823HELP, followed by your tip.