Demonstrators in Portland hurled glass bottles and pointed lasers at police officers late Saturday, prompting the declaration of an unlawful assembly and two arrests.
The violence marred efforts to get federal officers to leave the city, which has seen nightly unrest since May.
A group of some 200 gathered in Laurelhurst Park, several miles east of downtown, where the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and the Justice Center have repeatedly been targeted during riots, on Saturday evening. The crowd marched, blocking traffic, about a mile east to the Penumbra Kelly Building, which houses law enforcement offices. They then used vehicles to block East Burnside Street while shining bright lights, including lasers, at Portland police officers standing outside the building.
Eventually, the group began hurling glass bottles at the officers.
“A person in the crowd threw a glass jar or bottle filled with paint, which struck a Portland Police officer in the head. The officer was not injured,” the Portland Police Bureau said in an incident summary.
Because the mob declined to disperse, continuing to hurl projectiles, police declared an unlawful assembly and started forcing rioters to disperse.
“People continued to throw glass and plastic bottles at police. People with ‘press’ written on their outer garments repeatedly threw objects at officers,” the bureau said.
An attempt to interfere with law enforcement operations by driving a car slowly in front of officers ended after officers deflated the cars tires and passed it by.
Two arrests were made: Max Van Briesen, 31, and Freedom Moreno, 34, both of Portland. Van Briesen allegedly assaulted an officer, interfered with an officer, and engaged in disorderly conduct. Moreno is accused of interfering with the police, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and harassment.
When the crowd was dispersed away from the building, police disengaged and returned to the Penumbra Kelly Building, but a large portion of the mob circled back toward the building.
Police met the crowd again and began dispersing it. During this time, individuals with “press” written on their clothes again joined rioters in hurling projectiles at police. Police dispersed the crowd again, and the mob did not return to the building.
Police officers didn’t use tear gas.
A separate march that started at the courthouse, a federal building, and took approximately two hours was peaceful, police said, and officers didn’t interact with the crowd.
The unrest came several days after city and state officials reached an agreement with the Trump administration to help quell the ongoing rioting. State and city officials failed to end the violence for weeks, and rioters started damaging the courthouse in early July. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sent assets to the city to help protect the courthouse and other federal properties, eventually erecting a strong fence around the building that has mostly stymied rioters.
Hours after the pact was reached, federal officers declared an unlawful assembly and used tear gas to disperse demonstrators outside the courthouse.
The following evening, little law enforcement presence was seen. Demonstrators set fires and tried to take down the fence, but mostly milled about and listened to speeches. “After weeks of violent rioting and nightly attacks, federal officers in Portland saw their first night of state and local law enforcement support and relative peace,” DHS said in a statement.
In the early hours of Saturday, demonstrators damaged property and set fires, burning American flags and Bibles. Again, little law enforcement presence was visible, and no arrests were made. The police bureau described the crowd as “subdued.” DHS said activity around the courthouse continued “in an overall trend of diminishing violence as a result of the increased cooperation between state and federal law enforcement.”
“While the violence is abating, DHS’s enhanced presence on the ground will remain for the time being until the Department determines that the courthouse and other federal property are safe,” it added in a summary of the nightly activity.
During recent nights, crowd size has dwindled. Last month, thousands gathered on some nights.
From The Epoch Times