Riot Declared as Fire Burns in Portland Police Union Offices

August 9, 2020 Updated: August 9, 2020

PORTLAND, Ore.—A fire inside a police union building led authorities in Portland, Oregon, to declare a riot and force protesters away from the offices as violent demonstrations continue in the city.

Three officers were hurt, including two who were taken to a hospital, during efforts to clear a crowd of several hundred people outside the Portland Police Association building late Saturday, police said in a statement. The two hospitalized officers have since been released.

Rallies had been held earlier in the afternoon and evening throughout the city, including at Peninsula, Laurelhurst, and Berrydale parks, local media reported.

Police said a group from Peninsula Park marched to the Portland Police Association building, which is located about 5 miles north of the federal courthouse that had been the target of nightly violence. The Portland Police Association is a labor union that represents members of the Portland Police Bureau.

Portland officers
Portland police hang off the side of a riot van while searching for protesters in the Laurelhurst neighborhood after dispersing a crowd of about 200 people from in front of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office in Portland, Ore., early in the morning on Aug. 8, 2020. (Nathan Howard/AP Photo)

A group of demonstrators broke into the building, set the fire, and were adding to it when officers made the riot declaration just after 11:30 p.m., police said. Video shot by a journalist, and surveillance video from inside the building obtained by the police department, shows smoke and flames arising from inside the building.

Officers formed a line and used flash bangs and smoke canisters to force the protest several blocks away. Demonstrators congregated at Kenton Park, where they were again ordered to disperse. Most of the crowd had left by 2 a.m., police stated.

Portland officials have struggled to quell near-nightly violence since May. Rioters have regularly changed their targets, initially focusing on the Justice Center, a county building that houses a jail and a sheriff’s office. They later turned to the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, a federal building. The Trump administration on July 4 sent federal assets to Portland because police failed to protect the building.

After the state agreed to help quell the violence around the courthouse, rioters began targeting the Penumbra Kelly Building east of downtown. The building includes county and local law enforcement offices.

Police vehicle tire suffers damage
A police vehicle tire that suffered nail punctures damage in a handout photo released on Aug. 8, 2020. (Portland Police Bureau via AP)

Police arrested 24 people during demonstrations overnight Friday after they said people defied orders to disperse and threw rocks, frozen or hard-boiled eggs and commercial-grade fireworks at officers. An unlawful assembly was declared outside the Penumbra Kelly public safety building.

Most of those arrested were from Portland, while one man was from Oakland, California, and another was from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Most were in their 20s or 30s. The charges included assault on an officer, interfering with an officer, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

An Oregon State Police trooper was struck in the head by a large rock and suffered a head injury, police said. The trooper’s condition was not immediately known.

Some rioters filled pool noodles with nails and placed them in the road, causing extensive damage to a patrol vehicle, police said. Oregon State Police worked with Portland officers to clear the protesters.

Tear gas was used by police on protesters Wednesday for the first time since the U.S. agents pulled back their presence in the city. But officers did not use it Thursday or Friday despite declaring the demonstrations unlawful assemblies. Police said tear gas wasn’t used Saturday.

By Martha Bellisle and Gillian Flaccus

Epoch Times reporter Zachary Stieber contributed to this report