Rioters at a Black Lives Matter event in Portland late Saturday threw fire bombs, mortars, and rocks at police officers. One person was set on fire, surrounded by people who frantically tried to put out the flames.
Clashes between law enforcement and rioters, which included members of the far-left anarcho-communist Antifa network, continued into Sunday. Over 50 people were arrested.
Because of the number of police officers required to respond to the riot, numerous 911 calls were placed on hold.
At one point, around 2 a.m., nearly 150 calls were placed on hold, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said.
A crowd gathered at Ventura Park, a half-mile from the PPB’s East Precinct, and marched to the building, which sits in a residential area.
Many people in the crowd wore protective gear like helmets and bore shields.
“It was clear that the intent of the crowd was not peaceful protest. Therefore officers were positioned in such a way that prevented the march from reaching East Precinct,” PPB said in an incident summary.
As the crowd approached the officers, they began launching fire bombs.
One of the bombs fell short of the police line. A person was set on fire. Video footage showed the man running, trying to stamp out the flames, before rolling around on the ground as people tried to put out the flames.
The fire wasn’t put out until police officers used a fire extinguisher. About 30 seconds had elapsed.
The man was offered treatment by Portland Fire and Rescue medics. He was later taken to a hospital by a private vehicle.
Because the criminal activity presented a danger to people’s safety, police declared a riot and warned people to disperse or face crowd control munitions and arrest.
Instead of dispersing, the crowd began launching mortars and rocks at officers. At least one person used a wrist-rocket slingshot to fire objects at officers.
Police used tear gas and other munitions and arrested over 50 people in the resulting clashes, which saw rioters walk through the residential Mill Park community, lighting fires in the streets.
Confused residents were seen emerging from their homes as loud explosions were heard.
“Kill Cops” and “Kill the Press” graffiti was seen in the area.
Promotions for the event circulated widely online. One promotion showed a gravestone with the words: “Here Lies PPB, 1870-2020, 150 Years of Oppression.”
Another said the event was organized by the PDX Black Youth Movement, which seeks to defund the police, among other things. The movement didn’t respond to a request for comment.
People attending the event, a third promotion said, want the abolition of police and prisons.
Oregon state troopers helped Portland officers respond to the riot.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Friday that the National Guard wasn’t being sent to help quell unrest in Portland because they weren’t needed.
Her office didn’t respond to a request for comment.