Lorenzo Reyes, USA Today, July 19, 2020
Portland, Oregon, police declared a gathering Saturday night a riot after hundreds of demonstrators who have been protesting in the city since the death of George Floyd broke into a building and set it ablaze and started dumpster fires.
The protesters broke into the Portland Police Association at around 10:45 p.m. Saturday, police said, and “ignited a fire inside.” That prompted police to declare the event a riot “due to the violent conduct of the large group creating a grave risk of public alarm.” The fire inside the Portland Police Association building was put out a short time later.
“As the crowd was dispersed, several people in the crowd were arrested and officers were able to extinguish the fire,” Portland Police said Sunday in a statement. “Portland Police did not use any CS gas,” a commonly used term for tear gas.
Earlier Saturday night, a different group of demonstrators gathered by the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct and “taunted officers … tampered with gates, broke patrol vehicle windows, and vandalized patrol vehicles,” police said.
After protesters regrouped later at an intersection in North Portland, police said they tried to move the crowd south, when some “threw rocks, gopher gassers, and launched paint filled balloons at officers.” Police said some officers were injured but did not provide specific details.
The Trump administration has enlisted the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and an elite U.S. Customs and Border Protection team based on the U.S.-Mexico border to protect federal property.
Saturday night’s protest was just the latest incident in a weekend that had already been characterized by unrest. The protests are part of a larger nationwide movement for racial justice after Floyd’s death May 25 while he was in police custody.
On Friday night, hundreds of people gathered for a vigil outside the Justice Center, which is downtown and between two federal buildings.
Dozens of protesters across the street entered two recently closed city parks by taking down a chain-link fence that had been restricting access.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that federal agents left a nearby office building and used impact munitions, stun grenades and tear gas to clear the area. The outlet said its journalists did not observe any incident that might have prompted the use of the weapons.