Protesters were back on the streets of Portland, Oregon, Saturday night as violent demonstrations have continued in the city that had hoped for calm after federal agents withdrew more than a week ago and local police try to quell the unrest.
A crowd of several hundred people formed late Saturday outside the Portland Police Association building, about 5 miles north of the federal courthouse that had been the target of nightly violence earlier this summer.
Live video showed multiple dumpster fires near the building, less than half an hour after police tweeted that “criminal activities including, but not limited to, vandalism, unlawful entry to the building, or fire starting,” could be subject to arrest, the use of tear gas and/or crowd-control munitions.
Video posted on social media also appeared to show a fire inside the building. The Portland Police Association is a labor union that represents members of law enforcement.
A riot was declared by police just after 11:30 p.m., and demonstrators were asked to leave.
Rallies had been held earlier in the afternoon and evening throughout the city, including at Peninsula, Laurelhurst and Berrydale parks, local media reported.
The gatherings this week had been noticeably smaller than the crowds of thousands who turned out nightly for about two weeks in July to protest the presence of U.S. agents sent by the Trump administration to protect the federal courthouse downtown.
This week’s clashes have, however, amped up tensions after an agreement between state and federal officials seemed to offer a brief reprieve.
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 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 demonstrators filled pool noodles with nails and placed them in the road, causing extensive damage to a patrol vehicle, police said. Oregon State Police had worked with Portland officers to clear the protesters.
Since George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, protests over racial injustice and police brutality have occurred nightly for more than 70 days.
Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler said violent protesters are also serving as political “props” for President Donald Trump in a divisive election season where the president is hammering on a law-and-order message. Trump has called the protesters as “sick and dangerous anarchists” running wild in the city’s streets.
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.