Police, Rioters Clash in Portland After State Troopers Withdraw

August 15, 2020 Updated: August 21, 2020

Rioters in Portland launched chunks of concrete, golf balls, fireworks, and other objects at police officers late Friday after the police blocked a mob from going to the offices of the city’s police union.

Rioters have set fire to the Portland Police Association’s building twice in recent weeks and appeared to be headed there again, prompting police officers to position themselves in a way that demonstrators couldn’t access the building. The rioters were led by a group carrying wooden shields emblazoned with a black fist, a symbol used by Black Lives Matter groups.

After officers blocked them, rioters threw paintballs and other projectiles. Police officers then declared an unlawful assembly and warned people to disperse or face the use of force.

The group kept standing in the street, blocking traffic, so officers rushed them and began dispersing them in different directions. Crowd control munitions were used, but not tear gas.

The mayhem continued for several hours, into the early hours of Saturday.

Epoch Times Photo
Demonstrators form a shield wall while facing off with police officers in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 14, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
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Portland police run through a residential neighborhood while dispersing a crowd of about 400 rioters in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 14, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Officers were pelted with commercial grade fireworks, golf balls, large river rock, palm sized chunks of concrete, glass bottles, and ball bearings from sling shots, the Portland Police Bureau said. One officer was punched in the head; another was struck by an object, possibly a stick or a bat. Both suffered minor injuries.

Rioters dragged dumpsters into the street and lit garbage inside on fire.

“Some of the fires were set close enough to traffic that several cars had to swerve to miss them,” police said in an incident summary.

The crowd eventually thinned and most people left the area by 3:45 a.m.

The chaos unfolded in north Portland.

Four people were arrested for charges including assault of a public safety officer, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

Rioting in Portland has continued nearly every night since May 28. Agitators initially targeted the Justice Center, a county building, before turning their attention to the nearby federal courthouse.

The lack of police interference led to the Trump administration surging federal assets on July 4. Ensuing clashes between federal officers and rioters drew worldwide attention.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, reached an agreement in late July that included the deployment of state troopers to Portland to try to help keep the peace. Abandoning efforts to break into and damage the courthouse, rioters began targeting outlying areas of the city, including the police union building and a police precinct, which they tried torching with people trapped inside.

State troopers pulled out of the city on Thursday. Capt. Timothy Fox, a state police spokesman, told The Epoch Times that “we are inclined to move those resources back to counties where prosecution of criminal conduct is still a priority.”

The district attorney overseeing Portland had announced earlier in the week that his office would presumptively decline proseuction for a number of crimes, including disorderly conduct and riot, as he professed sympathy for the rioters.

“These demonstrations are being used to righteously express grief, anger, and frustration over that senseless act of violence, and the countless other abuses people of color have endured throughout history at the hands of the legal system,” he told reporters.

Fox also said the state police only committed to being in Portland for two weeks, and that period of time was over.

Brown said in a statement that the withdrawal was planned.

“This transition was made in coordination with local and federal officials. If further state support is needed in Portland, OSP troopers will be available to return to the city,” she said in a statement.

Epoch Times Photo
Portland police officers arrest a man amid rioting in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 14, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Epoch Times Photo
A demonstrator is treated by a street medic after being pepper sprayed amid rioting in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 14, 2020. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

City officials have spoken favorably of the violent demonstrators. Before the deal, they repeatedly blamed the Trump administration for the violence that took place in their city.

Several actions taken by federal officers during the rioting are under internal investigation.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, a Democrat who helped lead efforts to defund the police, shared video of police officers using force to disperse the crowd overnight Friday.

“This brutality is unacceptable. This is the community the police are sworn to protect and serve. They must uphold Portlanders constitution rights,” she wrote on Twitter.

Mayor and Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler, a Democrat, has largely remained silent on the continuing chaos since condemning the demonstrators last week.

“When you commit arson with an accelerant in an attempt to burn down a building that is occupied by people that you have intentionally trapped inside, you are not demonstrating, you are attempting to commit murder,” Wheeler told reporters at the time.

Correction: This story was updated with clarification on the district attorney’s new policy.

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