Rioters threw chunks of concrete, rocks, and other projectiles at police officers in Portland, Oregon, late on Aug. 7, as clashes between them and officers spilled again into nearby residential streets.
Unrest in the city has continued virtually unabated since it started in late May.
People gathered outside the Penumbra Kelly Building, where law enforcement offices are based, about four miles east of downtown, around 9:45 p.m. Police officers, taking a more aggressive stance under new direction from Police Commissioner Ted Wheeler, announced that people would be arrested for trespassing if they didn’t leave the property.
As officers made arrests, the crowd hurled rocks at them. The mob soon broke off concrete pieces from a nearby retaining wall, smashed them into smaller pieces, and launched them at the police, according to a Portland Police Bureau incident summary. Others shined lasers at officers.
Frozen or hard-boiled eggs and commercial-grade fireworks were also thrown.
The mayhem at the building continued for several hours until Oregon state troopers and Portland police officers worked together to begin dispersing the crowd to the east.
During the resulting clashes, rioters alternated fleeing—at one point, entering the backyard of a private home, prompting a man living there to run out and tell them to leave—and facing off with law enforcement, using tactics they practiced in a park earlier in the day.
Rioters in Portland use sophisticated tactics and formations, organized with supply lines, federal law enforcement officials told Congress this week. They’ve given no indication they’ll stop committing violence and some expressly say they have no demands, short of the abolition of the current law enforcement system.
“I don’t believe that they have any intention of stopping. And what they’re really trying to do is completely dismantle Portland as we know it,” Portland Police Sgt. Brent Maxey, an 18-year veteran of the force, told reporters in a briefing this week.
Wheeler, a Democrat who is also mayor, condemned the violence in a news conference on Aug. 6. He said the rioters are committing attempted murder when they trap people inside buildings and try to burn them down.
Rioters have started turning to attempts to disable police vehicles. On the night of Aug. 6, they placed rebar ties in the road. Early on Aug. 8, they used pool noodles filled with nails.
The flurry of attacks from rioters forced police to keep their distance, the bureau said in a statement apologizing to homeowners for the noise.
The crowd eventually dispersed by 2:30 a.m., the bureau said.
The police force struggled to respond to both the riot and the crime unfolding elsewhere in the city overnight. At one point, there were two separate shootings and 16 priority calls in the North Precinct.
“Other precincts are available to help, but response times are delayed right now,” the bureau said.
Portland is dealing with a surge in violence, with 99 shootings taking place in July, a spike from 35 in the same month last year, police officials said this week. Fifteen deaths occurred in July alone.
Wheeler said officers should be focused on responding to the record gun violence, not to arson and other crimes committed by rioters. He plans to unveil a comprehensive plan to address the rise in shootings.
President Donald Trump told reporters in New Jersey on Aug. 7 that his administration would step in and quell the continued violence in Portland if asked to do so by the mayor and Democratic Gov. Kate Brown.
“We will go in to stop the problems in Portland [in] 24 hours, just like we did in Minneapolis after they really hurt that city,” he said.