A 32-year-old man has been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly setting fire to a public building during the early days of George Floyd protests in Portland.
Edward Thomas Schinzing, 32, is accused of using fire to ‘maliciously damage’ the city’s Justice Center which houses the Multnomah County jail and the Portland Police Bureau headquarters, on May 29.
According to federal prosecutors, Schinzing had been part of a group of 30 protesters who broke into the facility through the windows and spray-painted portions of the office, damaged equipment and furniture, and started fires.
Footage from YouTube, Twitter, surveillance cameras and photos shared online showed the suspects vandalizing the office space where three county employees had been working before being forced to flee.
Schinzing, who was shirtless at the time of the incident, was identified by a comparison with a jail booking photo and a distinctive tattoo of his last name across his upper back, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
His tattoos had been visible in photographs of crowds marching across the Burnside Bridge before he entered the building.
Authorities say he spread a fire that started near the front of the office by lighting additional papers on fire and moving them into a drawer of a separate cubicle.
Schinzing appeared in federal court on Tuesday where he was charged with arson – a felony offense that carries up to 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years.
It comes two months after chaos erupted in the city which has continued to see unrest with protesters targeting a federal courthouse in downtown Portland this weekend.
The city’s demonstrations in support of racial justice and police reform have been marred by violence prompting the federal government to intervene and send in militarized officers.