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Armed Locals Allegedly Set Up Roadblocks Near Portland Amid Unfounded Arson Conspiracy Theories

There’s been reports of armed locals setting up illegal roadblocks in the Portland area, authorities said. Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese did not spell it out in a statement released Saturday, but the reports happen amid rampant wildfires in the western United States, and as other law enforcement agencies dismiss rumors that “Antifa” people started fires in Oregon.

In any case, Reese mentioned that a fire was started on Friday before these roadblocks. Someone did it on purpose in the Corbett area using an illegal firework, he said. A neighbor, fire department officials, and a deputy put it out, he said. That remains under investigation.

“Soon after, we started receiving reports of local residents establishing road blocks in East Multnomah County,” he said. “Deputies responded to reports some people were armed and asking for identification of the folks they stopped. We told people engaging in this behavior that roadways are open to all users, and their actions are illegal and they could be subject to citation or arrest.”

No charges were announced. The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment regarding the residents motivations, how many people were armed, how many roadblocks were confirmed by investigators, and the logic behind apparently letting the locals off with a warning if the alleged behavior was illegal.

Portland is in the western part of Multnomah County. It has seen raucous clashes between ostensibly left-wing Black Lives Matter protesters, right-wing counter demonstrators, and law enforcement. For example, a self-professed Antifa man Michael Forest Reinoehl allegedly killed a right-winger Aaron “Jay” Davidson. He was slain by authorities during his arrest in Washington state.

On top of all that, the west coast has seen a slew of wildfires. This fueled rumors that Antifa members or “extremists” started the flames in Oregon. Authorities over there say those conspiracy theories are false.

“FBI Portland and local law enforcement agencies have been receiving reports that extremists are responsible for setting wildfires in Oregon,” the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a statement Friday. “With our state and local partners, the FBI has investigated several such reports and found them to be untrue. Conspiracy theories and misinformation take valuable resources away local fire and police agencies working around the clock to bring these fires under control. Please help our entire community by only sharing validated information from official sources.”

From the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office:

Rumors spread just like wildfire and now our 9-1-1 dispatchers and professional staff are being overrun with requests for information and inquiries on an UNTRUE rumor that 6 Antifa members have been arrested for setting fires in DOUGLAS COUNTY, OREGON.

THIS IS NOT TRUE! Unfortunately, people are spreading this rumor and it is causing problems.

Do your part, STOP. SPREADING. RUMORS! Follow official sources of information such as local emergency response websites and pages, government websites and pages and local reputable news outlets.

From the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office:

One increasingly problematic issue related to the disastrous fires in Jackson County is the spreading of false information. There are numerous FALSE reports of arrests and other situations over the past days that are the content of postings, fake stories and gossip..
When you see or hear a story please check official sources only to verify the information.

Please don’t re-post and spread misinformation based on some unverified random post or meme. Rumors make the job of protecting the community more difficult.

We are inundated with questions about things that are FAKE stories. One example is a story circulating that varies about what group is involved as to setting fires and arrests being made.

Medford police dismissed a similar claim spreading on social media, in which they purportedly arrested several people for starting a “string of fires.” A man’s apparent mugshot was featured in an image, which cops say is false.

“This is a made up graphic and story,” they said Wednesday. “We did not arrest this person for arson, nor anyone affiliated with Antifa or ‘Proud Boys’ as we’ve heard throughout the day. Also, no confirmed gatherings of Antifa which has also been reported.”

The Proud Boys are a right-wing group often entangled in violent clashes.

The “Antifa” arson allegation connected to Douglas County was boosted by “Q,” the individual or people behind the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to CNN.

[Featured image via ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images; depicts burnt tress in Estacada, Oregon–about 30 miles to the southeast of Portland–on September 12, 2020]

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