Portland police declare riot following Breonna Taylor ruling
Police declared a riot and made multiple arrests as hundreds gathered outside the Portland Police Bureau's Central Precinct on Southwest Second Avenue late Wednesday night.
The unrest came hours after a grand jury decision in Louisville, Kentucky, regarding the police killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency medical worker from Louisville, Kentucky, who was studying to become a nurse. Taylor, 26, was shot several times in her hallway on March 13 after three plainclothes narcotics detectives busted down the door of her apartment. No drugs were found at Taylor's home.
On Wednesday, a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Taylor's death.
Prosecutors said two officers who fired their weapons were justified in using force to protect themselves after they faced gunfire from Taylor's boyfriend. The only charges were three counts of wanton endangerment against one officer for shooting into a home next to Taylor's with people inside, according to national media reports.
In Portland, police tweeted at 10 p.m. on Sept. 23 that the event was an unlawful assembly and demanded protesters leave the area and get out of the street. "Failure to adhere to this order may subject you to arrest, citation or the use of crowd control agents including, but not limited to, impact weapons and/or OC munitions (tear gas)," according the bureau.
About 20 minutes later, police declared a riot.
Around the same time, someone set fire to an awning on the side of the police building. As officers moved in, what looked like a Molotov cocktail was thrown in front of a police van, bursting into a wall of flame. Officers said rocks also were thrown at upper glass windows of the precinct.
Police also shut down a large portion of the downtown area, including Southwest Naito Parkway to Broadway from Southwest Columbia Street to Harvey Milk. Officers in tactical gear moved through the streets, attempting to disperse the crowds.
A KOIN 6 News crew spotted smoke rolling through the streets and nearby parks and heard what sounded like less-lethal munitions being fired by police at protesters.
Around 12:11 a.m., a group of nearly 75 people returned to Chapman Square Park. Eventually the group gathered at Southwest Second Avenue and Madison Street before dispersing around 1:30 a.m.
Several officers were injured overnight, according to Portland Police. Details of the arrests will be announced later.
A separate group gathered a bit earlier outside the Justice Center to listen to speeches.
"Justice for Breonna Taylor!" read the flier posted on the Twitter page Safe PDX, a self-described abolitionist collective.
The event started at Chapman Square in front of the Justice Center, a frequent locale of protests advocating Black Lives Matter and against police brutality and racism over the summer. In recent weeks the Justice Center had seen less of a focus, with protests occurring at various locations all over Portland.
Wednesday evening, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon tweeted: "Breonna Taylor deserved justice. We cannot accept a system that enables the extrajudicial killing of Black Americans. There is no better way to honor Breonna's life than to continue the fight for equity and justice for every single American."
U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley released the following statement: "Breonna Taylor should be alive today. She's not because of a fundamentally racist system that cheapens her life and the lives of all Black people. Time and again, Black Americans are getting shot by officers because of a racist system in which public safety officials view white community members as the clients and Black community members as the threat. A system that assumes when responding to Black Americans, force is the first resort instead of the last. A system whose consequences persist, despite the many individual officers who strive to do the right and just thing."
KOIN News 6 is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story can be found here.
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