Anti-government protesters in Portland smash windows, vandalize buildings
Anti-government protesters smashed windows at Oregon’s Democratic Party headquarters in Portland after gathering for an Inauguration Day rally.
A group of about 150 people marched to the Democratic Party headquarters on Wednesday afternoon as part of one of four protests taking place in the city.
Although the Portland Police Bureau said two of the protests remained “largely peaceful,” the other two “resulted in property damage and arrests.” Police reported that some of the demonstrators smashed windows and vandalized the Democratic headquarters building, leading officers to make “selective arrests.”
Portland Police Sgt. Kevin Allen said in a recorded video that eight individuals were arrested, with charges including felony mischief, possession of a destructive device and rioting.
Police recovered several weapons during the protest, including Molotov cocktails, knives, batons, chemical spray and a crowbar.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) January 21, 2021
The crowd was dressed in all black, with several in helmets and body armor, while police officers wore riot gear, the Los Angeles Times reported. The newspaper described the protesters’ political views as “hard to pin down,” noting that they were self-described anarchists and had a banner that said, “We are ungovernable.”
While marching, the anarchists held a banner reading “We don’t want Biden — we want revenge,” referring to President Biden, who was sworn in hours earlier, as well as police killings of citizens. They also chanted “Black Lives Matter,” even though local leaders of the group said they did not want to be associated with the demonstrations.
200 left-wing protesters are on the streets in Portland right now, with anti-Biden and anti-police messages.
“We are ungovernable,” one sign says. pic.twitter.com/WLTFpJrS03
— Mike Baker (@ByMikeBaker) January 20, 2021
Protesters surrounded a man with umbrellas to prevent him from being recognized as he spray painted the building with anti-Biden slogans and drew anarchist symbol on windows and walls, according to the newspaper.
The demonstrators also tipped over garbage containers and lit one of them on fire, The New York Times reported.
A group of 150 people also descended on the city’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices at 9 p.m., with police saying some had pepper ball guns, electronic control weapons similar to Tasers, shields and rocks, which were thrown at the building.
Portland police said that federal law enforcement worked to disperse that crowd. ICE deferred comment to the Federal Protective Service (FPS), which did not immediately return a request for comment.
The New York Times reported that federal authorities used tear gas and pepper balls to regulate the crowd.
“As always, we appreciate those who made your voices heard without resorting to criminal activity. We respect the rights of free speech and assembly,” Allen said in a video statement. “Going forward, we will monitor any future events where we have reason to think criminal activity will take place, without regard to the political perspective of those in the gathering.”
The Democratic Party of Oregon said in a statement it was “frustrated and disappointed” by the damage at its headquarters.
“We’re thankful that none of our staff were in the building at the time,” the party said. “This is not the first time our building has been vandalized during the past year — none of the prior incidents have deterred us from our important work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, and this one will be no different.”
A protest of about 150 people also broke out in Seattle, with some demonstrators smashing windows and spray-painting anarchist symbols, including at a federal courthouse, according to The New York Times. The crowd chanted both anti-Trump and anti-Biden slogans, and a flyer distributed at the protests said, “A Democratic administration is not a victory for oppressed people.”
The Seattle Police Department reported its officers arrested three suspects for charges including property damage, burglary and felony assault. The protesters allegedly vandalized “numerous buildings and structures with graffiti,” used smoke canisters and moved objects into the roadway to make obstructions, police said.
Portland endured more than 100 nights of consecutive protests in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. The demonstrations have become less frequent in recent weeks.
Updated 1:37 p.m.