Protests flared overnight in Northeast Portland, resulting in confrontations between police and protesters, property damage and fires set in trash bins.
Portland police said they used CS gas, a kind of tear gas, to disperse crowds amid a volatile demonstration early Friday. Several people were arrested, police said, and businesses were damaged.
Demonstrators set a fire in a bin on the north side of the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct and broke windows of some businesses, according to police.
The protest, which was among others held Thursday in Portland on the one-month anniversary of George Floyd’s death, drew hundreds of marchers to the precinct on Killingsworth Street.
Video footage shared on social media showed several people addressing the crowd while other protesters stood behind a short wooden barricade across from several officers. It was unclear who constructed the barricade, however protesters reinforced their side with dumpsters and other objects.
By 10:30 p.m., hundreds remained near the precinct, and some people called for an all-night occupation. The demonstration blocked traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard south of Killingsworth Street. Some officers in riot gear looked onto the crowd from the roof of the precinct building.
Some demonstrators later rammed dumpsters into large garage doors on the precinct’s west side and barricaded exit doors, police said.
Police said that by midnight, someone in the crowd started yelling over a bullhorn that they were “going to burn the building down” — presumably in reference to the precinct.
Officers notified the crowd about 1 a.m. Friday that an unlawful assembly had been declared. They started dispersing the crowd about 20 minutes later.
Police said demonstrators fought with officers and shot them with paintball rounds. A mortar was launched onto the precinct’s roof about 1:40 a.m., according to police, who said they used unspecified “crowd control munitions” against demonstrators.
Video footage posted at 2 a.m. shows officers marching through the street, which is overcome with white smoke.
Police said demonstrators had set the trash-bin fire on the north side of the precinct about 2:15 a.m. and that they used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Several demonstrators threw gas canisters back at officers, according to police.
Most of the crowd had dispersed by 3:30 a.m.
Police also said in a statement Friday morning that demonstrators had looted and set fire to businesses. The extent of the alleged looting wasn’t immediately clear, though a photo disseminated by police shows merchandise strewn outside a store. The only fire damage evident Friday morning to area businesses was a scorched exterior wall near a salon.
Police said numerous officers suffered minor injuries and that one was taken to a hospital with a more serious injury. The officers are expected to fully recover.
The demonstration was notably more raucous than other recent Portland protests.
“The dynamics of the demonstrators during this incident were more aggressive and violent than those seen in past weeks,” police said in a statement.
The protest also marked a return of the use of tear gas by Portland police.
Portland Police Deputy Chief Chris Davis said officers had some trouble clearing the area where a fire had been set in a trash bin that was pushed up against the west side of North Precinct. Officers were trying to enable firefighters to get in to put out the blaze.
“At that point, where they had set the fire and we couldn’t get the crowd to move, yeah we had to use CS gas finally after some warnings,” Davis said. “That was clearly a life-saving need.‘’
There were officers inside the precinct, as well as four people who were in custody at the time, Davis said.
In the early days of Portland’s ongoing protests, police used tear gas frequently as they confronted protesters, but, earlier this month, Mayor Ted Wheeler called for a ban on the use of tear gas after it was repeatedly used on demonstrators in downtown protests. The nonprofit Don’t Shoot Portland and two protesters sued the city, seeking to ban the Portland police use of tear gas to disperse large crowds.
A federal judge issued on June 9 a 14-day court order barring the launching of the riot-control agent except when a life is at risk. The judge extended the temporary order through July 24, at the acceptance of both sides.
During a community video conference meeting Friday morning, Nike Greene, director of Portland’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention who is based at the North Precinct, condemned Thursday night’s vandalism to the precinct and nearby businesses.
“You attack lives and try to kill them and that’s not OK any day of the week,” Greene said.
The chief and community members are planning a news conference at 2 p.m. at the intersection of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Killingsworth Street to speak out against it.
Remnants of the night of protests remained midmorning near Killingsworth and MLK.
A dumpster still smoldered in an O’Reilly Auto Parts parking lot. A Wells Fargo Bank had a broken window. Graffiti crews were busy removing graffiti, which was mostly on the backside of the Walnut Park Shopping Center.
One of the trash-bin fires set the night before caused some damage to the side of Mid-K Beauty Supply.
Mayor Ted Wheeler was in the area Friday morning and denounced the damage as criminal activity.
“This completely distracts from the importance of the movement,” Wheeler said.
Police Sgt. Brad Yakots was also in the area Friday morning. Yakots said, judging by what he heard from protesters on bullhorns the night before, that he believed they thought they were graffitiing the Portland Police Bureau Precinct, which is nearby but blocked by fences.
Thursday’s demonstrations started at Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland. People marched from there to City Hall, joining other protestors that included the family of Patrick Kimmons, a Black man who was fatally shot by Portland police officers in 2018. A Multnomah County grand jury declined to criminally charge the two officers who fired on Kimmons, who was 26.
Letha Winston, Kimmons’ mother, said she wants her son’s case reexamined. She urged protesters to apply pressure to Mayor Ted Wheeler and other elected officials to launch a second review of her son’s killing.
At one point, Winston called out for the mayor to come out of City Hall and personally answer her questions about what happened to her son two years ago.
“I’m going to get justice and I’m going to get it now,” Winston told a crowd of about 60 people.
Wheeler never emerged from City Hall, and it wasn’t clear the mayor was there during the demonstration.
Winston later led the group on a march to Southwest Fourth Avenue and Harvey Milk Street, roughly where her son was killed, and called for a permanent memorial to her son.
A separate group also gathered Thursday outside the Multnomah County Justice Center, the downtown jail where crowds have converged every night and sometimes clashed with police. Livestream video showed someone in the crowd used a projector to display messages such as “Dismantle white supremacy” on the jail.
Dozens of people remained at the downtown demonstration as of midnight. Shortly after midnight, those gathered downtown lay together on Southwest Third Avenue in memory of Floyd.
A man associated with the demonstration, Jaden Trea Peterson, was jailed after allegedly firing a gun into the ground near the Justice Center early Friday, according to Portland police. No one was hurt.
Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Brandon White said an object launched toward the jail during the previous night’s protests smashed some windows on the third floor of the building, which is also where some early criminal court appearances are held. As a result, some court hearings were moved to the county courthouse Thursday, he said. County officials also boarded up windows on the lower floors of the building.
Regional transit services TriMet, Portland Streetcar and the Clark County transit agency C-Tran also observed a moment of silence at 7:25 p.m. in observance of the one-month anniversary of Floyd’s death.
TriMet officials said MAX train operators planned to pause briefly at stations, and bus and paratransit drivers would pull over.
— Jim Ryan and Alex Hardgrave
Kale Williams and Maxine Bernstein of The Oregonian/OregonLive staff contributed to this report