Protesters, police clash in Portland during New Year’s Eve riot

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Protesters and police clashed in Portland, Ore., on Thursday night during a New Year’s Eve demonstration that police declared a riot.

The Portland Police Bureau designated the protest as a riot shortly before midnight on the holiday, citing the demonstrators’ use of violence, with local CBS affiliate KOIN reporting the declaration came at about 10:50 p.m. 

Within a half hour, Portland police advanced on the demonstration, prompting protesters to blast fireworks at them while officers used pepper balls, rubber bullets or some other type of less-lethal munition, according to KOIN. 

Police said in a release that they did not use gas but utilized “inert smoke and some impact munitions” in their response.

The police tweeted shortly after 11:30 p.m that a riot was declared after protesters used at least two Molotov cocktail-style firebombs and launched commercial-grade fireworks at the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse building and the Justice Center. 

In their tweets and over loudspeakers, officials warned that those who remained in the area were “subject to arrest, citation, and/or the use of force, including but not limited to impact weapons and tear gas.”

Police said they became aware of a small gathering of people at 7:45 p.m., which later grew to 80 to 100 people with some resorting to violence, according to a release. The Portland Police Bureau reported that some of the violence involved people using tools to attempt to break into the Justice Center.

KOIN reported that the demonstrations began near the police headquarters before protesters marched down streets and broke a window at a Starbucks. Soon, broken bottles surrounded the headquarters, and graffiti was spotted on that building and others. 

Portland police reported having assistance from Department of Homeland Security authorities and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, which also faced projectiles from the crowd, including rocks, bricks, frozen water bottles and paint balloons that police said could have included a substance that burns the skin. 

Police also said protesters set “multiple fires,” including in a garbage can, to a crosswalk signal and to various debris in the road. Officers made several arrests but did not release information about the arrests as of Friday morning. 

It wasn’t clear what the protests were about, but a flier for the event said “In Solidarity with [Black Lives Matter],” KOIN reported, and posts for the protest were shared online.

Portland has been riddled with demonstrations since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody in May. Demonstrators have called for racial justice for months, prompting President Trump in July to deploy federal authorities to respond, which he later withdrew.

Trump repeatedly pointed to the Portland protests as he campaigned for reelection, saying he would bring “law and order” to the country more than his competitor, President-elect Joe Biden.

Tags arrests Black Lives Matter demonstration Donald Trump Joe Biden Law enforcement New Year's Eve Oregon Police Portland Portland Police Portland Police Bureau Portland protests Protest riot

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