Several hundred people gathered in Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square Park around 8:30 p.m., where they gave and listened to speeches for about two hours.
Members of the group then began launching commercial-grade fireworks at the fence that had been erected around the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse to protect it from rioters; at least two fires were ignited outside the building.
Most in the crowd were wearing helmets and gas masks, and carrying shields and batons, according to the Portland Police Bureau.
“Because of the criminal behavior occurring, public address announcements were made telling the group to stop launching fireworks and starting fires at the federal courthouse,” the police said in a nightly incident summary.
As officers made the announcement, rioters shined lasers at their eyes. The beams from the lasers can cause permanent eye damage.
Most of the mob advanced to the nearby Central Precinct, where they blocked traffic and continued criminal actions. At 11:32 p.m., an unlawful assembly was declared by police.
Many in the crowd ignored orders to disperse and sparked a fire just outside the police building.
Portland police officers and Oregon state troopers collaborated to disperse the crowd, using tear gas and crowd-control munitions. During the action, rioters threw a large explosive and other fireworks at the officers, as well as rocks, bottles, and cans of paint. One officer suffered severe injuries, while others were treated for minor injuries.
The rioters then turned toward the Justice Center, a county building near the federal courthouse. Rioters and officers continued to clash into the early hours of Aug. 13.
One portion of the group threatened three workers who had emerged from the back of the Justice Center, while others blocked private vehicles from leaving a parking garage around the corner because some thought the vehicles contained off-duty police officers. Some in the group also completed what they call a “de-arrest,” or surrounding an officer and the person he or she has taken into custody and freeing the detainee by force.
Two people were arrested, police said: Marissa Wilderhancock, 19, on charges of reckless burning and criminal mischief; and Daniel Applegate, 31, on charges of interfering with an officer, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and riot. Applegate had an outstanding warrant for rape, police said.
It wasn’t clear if they would be prosecuted. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt announced this week that his office would drop cases for a range of charges, including riot, disorderly conduct, and interfering with a public safety officer.
The Trump administration reached a deal with the state last month on having city, county, and state officers protect the courthouse after police failed to protect the building earlier in the month, forcing the federal government to surge assets to Portland.
Demetria Hester, a black activist who was released this week without being charged, was seen among the crowd.
“Your mom hates you. You go home and you drink yourself to sleep,” Hester told officers standing on the street. “Because you think about the evil that you do every day. You hurt people that pay you to protect them.”
“You don’t care about your wife. You beat her. You beat your kids,” she added.