Portland demonstrators clash with police, set trash fires
Police arrested two people on charges including reckless burning, interfering with police and disorderly conduct
By Mark Graves
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland police and demonstrators briefly clashed downtown Thursday night, hours after several dozen people gathered to call for an end to police brutality.
The confrontation between police and protesters unfolded after officers repeatedly warned people to clear out of downtown streets. Demonstrators also lit at least four small fires on streets and sidewalks before police rushed in. Police detained at least two people.
The protest began outside the downtown Justice Center on Southwest Third Avenue. The law enforcement building has been at the heart of protests against police violence since they began more than 140 days ago.
People milled about on the streets surrounding the building Thursday night. Some people spray-painted anti-police graffiti to plywood attached to one side of the building. Other demonstrators lit a pile of debris on fire in the middle of Third Avenue.
Police arrived just before 11 p.m. and told people to move away from burning trash so firefighters could extinguish the flames. Protesters cheered the arrival of a Portland Fire & Rescue truck. Firefighters doused the flames and left.
Protesters then lit at least three other piles of trash aflame. Portland police later said they saw one person get out of a car and pour accelerant on one fire burning near the east side of the Justice Center. Police said they later cited someone inside the car, an 18-year-old woman, on charges of arson and reckless burning.
Police warned people gathered at the protest not to block traffic.
“If you remain in the roadway and show the intent to engage in physical resistance to removal, or if emergency circumstances require, you may be subject to the use of force," an officer said over a loudspeaker.
People eventually left Third Avenue, and moved one block west to the other side of the Justice Center on Second Avenue. Earlier in the night, someone had sprayed anti-police graffiti on that side of the building, where Portland police is headquartered. Around 11:45 p.m., Portland police arrived from multiple directions and rushed toward specific people standing near Second Avenue, on the east side of the Justice Center.
Police pressed people west on Main Street toward Fourth Avenue. Then, officers and protesters faced off in front of the former Multnomah County Courthouse building. After about 15 minutes, officers retreated. Many protesters left soon after.
Portland police said they arrested two people were booked into jail, one person on charges of reckless burning and a second person on charges of interfering with police and disorderly conduct.
The demonstration was one of several this week protesting police killings of Black Americans. People gathered Wednesday in Southeast Portland on what would have been the 47th birthday of George Floyd. The Minneapolis police killing of Floyd ignited nationwide calls for reform. Those protests have continued most nights in Portland since Floyd’s death in late May.
Protesters want the Portland City Council to cut at least $50 million from the police budget and shift that money to support for Black Portlanders, such as housing aid. Demonstrators also want Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler -- who is up for reelection next month -- to resign.
Wheeler has denounced the property damage and acts of violence that sometimes result from the late-night protests. During a demonstration Sunday labeled as an “Indigenous Day of Rage," some people toppled two statues and someone fired shots into a downtown restaurant. No one was hurt.
(c)2020 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)