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'Let this serve as a warning': Anarchists claim responsibility for burning car outside city leader's home

Self-described anarchists claimed responsibility for setting fire to a car outside a Portland city commissioner's home, calling it an "act of community self-defense."

Self-described anarchists boasted that they "torched a car" parked in front of a city commissioner's home early Friday morning in Portland, Oregon.

A 2024 Honda Accord caught fire around 1:30 a.m. on Friday outside Commissioner Rene Gonzalez's home. No one was hurt and firefighters were able to extinguish the flames. 

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Firefighters found evidence suggesting the fire was intentionally set, according to the Portland Police Bureau, which is investigating the incident as arson. The Accord belonged to a family member, according to a statement from Gonzalez.

On Monday, a local blog that publishes zines and "calls to action" for anarchists and radicals in Portland shared a post in which anarchists claimed responsibility for the "act of community self-defense."

"This was accomplished with a fire starter, which can be found in the outdoors section of any big box store," an anonymous blogger wrote. "Our only regret is not attacking the other two vehicles" parked outside the home.

A spokesperson for PPB did not comment on whether the blog post was part of the investigation.

Vandals have frequently targeted Gonzalez, a political newcomer who branded himself as a centrist and supporter of law and order. The windows of his campaign headquarters were smashed on several occasions ahead of the 2022 election in which Gonzalez ousted incumbent Jo Ann Hardesty, who advocated for defunding the police.

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Far-left activists object to Gonzalez's approach to public safety, livability and the homeless crisis, which has included banning a city agency from distributing tents and tarps to people sleeping outside. According to the blog post, Friday's attack was intentionally carried out just before a winter storm hit the Portland area, toppling trees and knocking out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses.

"Let this serve as a warning to the politicians and their capitalist cronies and a call to action to other anarchists," the post continued. "Solidarity means attack!"

Anarchists dedicated the attack to the memory of their "elders," naming recently-deceased anarchists from across the globe, including Manuel Esteban Paez Teran, who was killed last year during an alleged gunfight with police at a site demonstrators call "Cop City" in Atlanta.

They also dedicated the attack to two men killed by Portland police last month, Isaac L. Seavey and Tyrone Johnson II. Seavey was shot near a homeless encampment and police reported finding a handgun near his body, but did not say whether he fired any shots. Officers fatally shot Johnson on Dec. 27, describing him as an "armed suspect."

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt called the incident outside Gonzalez's home "political vandalism" and said "illegal coercion will not be tolerated."

"If confirmed arson, we will find and prosecute those responsible for this act to the fullest extent of the law," Schmidt wrote in a statement.

The investigation remained open as of Tuesday.

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