Portland officials declare riot, force protesters away from burning police union office

Portland officials declared a riot in the city during Saturday night demonstrations after the police union office was set on fire. 

Demonstrators broke into the Portland Police Association Office at about 11:35 p.m. Saturday and started a fire, prompting Portland police to designate the gathering as a riot “due to the criminal activity within the crowd.” Surveillance video captured the fire being set. 

Protesters had also erected a fence, pushed dumpsters in the street, set a dumpster on fire, spray painted the office and destroyed security cameras, according to a release from police

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Police ordered “all people, including members of the press and legal observers” to leave the area or be at risk of facing arrest, citation or crowd control agents like tear gas. Oregon State Police assisted with the dispersal of the crowd.

“They were met with a hostile crowd who began throwing glass bottles and paint balloons at them,” the release states. “The hostile crowd also tried to injure officers by shining green lasers into their eyes, which is a crime in Oregon.”

Police said demonstrators put up barricades with street closure signs and picnic tables to block officers until police broke through. After 300 protesters gathered in Kenton Park, police ordered all people to immediately leave, and most of the crowd was gone by 2 a.m.

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Three officers were injured on Saturday, with two being transported to hospitals and then being released. Police also said several arrests were made. Portland Fire and Rescue put out the fire inside the police union’s office. 

Several other groups marched peacefully in other areas of the city, and police did not interact with them, police noted. 

Friday’s demonstrations resulted in 24 arrests after demonstrators remained on the Penumbra Kelly Building’s property after police told them not to. As the arrests were taking place, police said demonstrators threw rocks and concrete and shot lasers in officers’ eyes. 

Later, the crowd threw frozen or hard boiled eggs, rocks and commercial grade fireworks at officers. An Oregon State Police trooper experienced a head injury after being hit by a large rock, police said.

Demonstrators also set pool noodles filled with nails in roads “in an effort to damage police vehicle tires.”

Protests continued this weekend after more than 70 days of demonstrations in the city after George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. The weekend’s protests were smaller than last month’s when thousands turned out as the Trump administration sent federal authorities to quell the demonstrations.