Tear gas deployed as feds clash with Portland protesters
Portland was rocked with another night of protests, starting Tuesday and drawing well into Wednesday, July 15, with differing accounts from police and witnesses, and a growing rift between city of Portland and federal authorities.
The area around the federal courthouse and Portland City Hall was rocked by a volley of flashbang grenades between 3:30 and 4 a.m., lighting up downtown businesses and booming throughout the night. As many as two dozen explosions were heard within a 30 minute frame. KOIN 6 News reported that tear gas was being deployed in downtown Portland as federal agents clashed with protesters.
But a press release from Portland Police — issued at 2:45 a.m. — reads in part, "The crowd dissipated over the next several hours. No (tear) gas, crowd control munitions, or force was used."
Social media accounts around 4 a.m. reported multiple incidents of federal agents engaging with protesters. KOIN 6 reporters on scene said tear gas was fired near Southwest Third Avenue and Jefferson Street.
Tuesday and Wednesday became the 47th straight night of Portland protests. Earlier on Tuesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told the acting Homeland Security secretary that federal law enforcement agents should "leave Portland altogether" after days of increasing tensions between protesters downtown.
According to police, the incident began around 9:15 p.m., as the group of demonstrators marching to the Justice Center began blocking traffic by standing in the road at Southwest Third Avenue and Main Street. They set up barricades at Southwest Main and Salmon streets at Third Avenue. The barricades blocked the entire lanes of traffic and consisted of industrial kitchen appliances, road blockades and flashing traffic signs, police said. During this time, the demonstrators lit a fire where the elk statue once stood, police said, and another small fire was reported at Southwest Madison Street and Third Avenue.
At around 1 a.m., the demonstrators left the barricades and walked to the Portland Police Department's Central Precinct on Southwest Second Avenue "in an attempt to disrupt officers as they walked in from the end of their shift," according to police.
Police removed some of the Third Avenue barricade around 1:20 a.m., police said, as demonstrators threw glass bottles and pointed lasers at them.
City vs. federal authorities
That clash came two days after President Trump, during a Facebook roundtable in Washington, said "Portland was totally out of control" until he sent in federal agents to deal with the protesters.
"We've done a great job in Portland," Trump said Monday. "Portland was totally out of control, and they went in, and I guess we have many people right now in jail. We very much quelled it, and if it starts again, we'll quell it again very easily. It's not hard to do, if you know what you're doing,"
The arrival of federal authorities marked an uptick in violence, which had begun to wane prior to their arrival.
On Tuesday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler told the acting Homeland Security secretary that federal law enforcement agents should "leave Portland altogether" after days of increasing tensions between protesters downtown.
In a series of tweets, Wheeler said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf asked to speak with him about the ongoing demonstrations in Portland, which started in late May following the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died in Minneapolis after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes while being arrested.
Wheeler said he told Wolf his "biggest immediate concern" was the violence demonstrated by federal officers over the weekend. One protester was critically injured when he was shot in the head by a "less lethal" munition. The demonstrator, Donavan Labella, was identity to KOIN 6 news by his mother Desiree.
Labella was hit in the head with some sort of munition from federal officers that left him bleeding on the ground across the street from the courthouse around 10 p.m. Saturday, On Sunday, his mother said he underwent facial reconstructive surgery. She said she was able to speak with him earlier in the day by computer.
KOIN 6 News contributed to this article. KOIN is a partner of the Pamplin Media Group. To see their story, click here.
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