Portland police, protesters in conflict at Tuesday rally
Portland police and small bands of black-clad protesters continued to do battle in the streets of Portland on Tuesday evening, June 2, during the city's sixth straight night of protests related to the death of George Floyd.
Similar to Monday's protest, thousands gathered in a field near Revolution Hall on Portland's East Side around 6 p.m., later staging a sweeping "die-in" that filled the Burnside Bridge with recumbent activists. The column then marched to Pioneer Courthouse Square.
This was the clip that made @LauralPorter & me gasp on live TV.— Maggie Vespa KGW (@Maggie_Vespa) June 3, 2020
We saw people moving barricades & equipment around Pioneer Square... when a police SUV came speeding through. Ppl ran out of the way.
This was around 12:14 a.m. @PortlandPolice can you tell us what happened? pic.twitter.com/K7ejbx1FHi
Police reports and social media accounts show that smaller splinter groups began to challenge roadblocks set up in a perimeter surrounding the city's seat of power. The road blocks closed all public access along Southwest First Avenue to Fifth Avenue, and from Southwest Taylor Street to Jefferson Street — an area that includes the Justice Center, which houses the Portland Police Bureau's central precinct and main county lock-up, as well as the federal courthouse and City Hall.
Iâ€™m calling it. Too many cops throwing tear gas from cars at random groups of people.— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) June 3, 2020
Around 9:30 p.m., police declared the smaller groups approaching the fenced-in areas an "unlawful assembly," and fired tear gas canisters and flashbangs multiple times as the crowd fled and reformed time and again.
Police say the anti-fascist activists, often called antifa, threw glass bottles, mortars, bats and fireworks at officers.
Situation update about actions right after 9 pm: Some peaceful demonstrators in Pioneer Square. Some violent and aggressive actions near Justice center. Police respond with riot control agents to disperse those engaged in criminal activity. pic.twitter.com/VSA6slw3ib— Jami Resch (@ChiefResch) June 3, 2020
"We want to ensure there is no confusion. While thousands peacefully protested in Pioneer Courthouse Square, a group in the hundreds were at the fencing near the Justice Center," police said. "They were repeatedly warned to not tamper with the fencing or force would be used."
Police said the protesters engaged in destructive behavior as well, including setting a blaze inside a trash can that spread to a tree near Southwest Alder Street at Second Avenue.
The protest appeared to fizzle out around 12:30 a.m.
Multiple arrests have been reported.
Conflcit: heavy tear gas pic.twitter.com/zj2w2jhGhv— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) June 3, 2020
TriMet suspended bus and light-rail service in parts of downtown during the protest, though Mayor Wheeler did not extend his curfew, which began Saturday, into Tuesday.
It wasn't immediately clear whether a protest on Wednesday will occur, though police tactics from Tuesday night are already under scrutiny.
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said local officers responded too aggressively and were "indiscriminately utilizing tear gas, flash bang grenades and violence."
"It was heartbreaking to see the day end in reports of media, children, families and youth getting swept up in an over aggressive response to a small group of disruptors," she wrote.
Meanwhile, in Portlandâ€™s Justice Center. (Keeping photog anon). pic.twitter.com/S8zY8LChQA— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) June 3, 2020
Oregon Public Broadcasting, a news partner of Pamplin Media Group, contributed to this article.
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