Fireworks, riot outside Justice Center in downtown Portland again overnight
Sunset on the Fourth of July in Portland — patriotic celebrations around the periphery of the city; illegal fireworks, street fires and police flashbangs downtown.
The raucous juxtaposition continued deep into the morning as yet another riot was declared, vandals attacked buildings, and police chased demonstrators late into the morning. Thirteen people were arrested on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to attempted assault of a peace officer, reckless endangerment and riot.
"This is the second time in a day a riot was declared in downtown Portland due to the activities of many that put other's lives at risk; this is unacceptable," said Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell.
The first riot was declared the night and morning before, July 3 and 4. In all, this was the fourth declared riot in five nights in Portland.
"Our officers are tired, but they are resilient," Lovell said. "They will continue to be available every night to protect our community members as they swore an oath to do. I hope community members can support these hard working individuals and denounce the violence that has been placed upon them by those who wish to riot. The violence we have witnessed is contrary to the values of our city and the thousands who are hoping to move forward with systemic change. Our community deserves better than nightly criminal activity that destroys the value and fabric of our community."
Beyond the Black Lives Matter movement — which has gone global to oppose the long history of injuries and deaths of African Americans at the hands of police officers — Portland police of late have come under criticism from Gov. Kate Brown, Speaker of the Oregon House Tina Kotek, and other members of the Legislature, as well as censure from members of the Portland City Council. Many have urged police to find a way to de-escalate the nightly brawls that have dominated the summer and spring of 2020.
Just before 10 p.m. Saturday, demonstrators began blocking westbound traffic on Southwest Main Street, according to police. Demonstrators continued to shoot off fireworks from this location, as well as Southwest Third Avenue. A vehicle associated with the demonstration had a speaker system and false announcements were broadcast that appeared to impersonate the Portland Police Bureau's sound truck. Demonstrators began burning an American flag they hung from the Justice Center.
Around 10:30 p.m., demonstrators began shooting commercial fireworks towards the Justice Center and the Federal Courthouse. Several of the demonstrators were observed carrying shields. The sound truck admonished the crowd, warning them to discontinue firing fireworks and incendiary devices at the two buildings where fires had been set less than 24 hours earlier.
Several windows were broken and fireworks and projectiles entered the Federal Courthouse building.
Just after 11 p.m., a riot was declared. Police say the order was given to protect the lives and safety of personnel inside and outside of the Federal Court House.
Officers dispersed the crowd. Demonstrators threw bricks, mortars, M-80s and other flammables towards them, according to police. Officers used crowd control munitions and tear gas.
Small fires continued into the early hours of Sunday: at the Pioneer Family statue that stands across the street from the Justice Center; at piles of trash near Southwest Main Street and Third Avenue; and in the middle of the street on Third Avenue. In one instance, people were seen carrying a picnic table to the growing fire in the middle of Third Ave.
Around 1 a.m. Sunday, demonstrators started a large bonfire in the middle of Southwest Third Avenue and Main Street.
Numerous business windows were shattered, police said. Officers made several arrests, including one at Southwest Main Street and Broadway where a man fought with officers. Officers were able to get him in custody and recovered an illegally possessed loaded firearm and a knife.
Details of the night's arrests were not yet made available.
Between 1 and 2 a.m., protesters launched fireworks, smoke bombs and mortars at and near the Federal Courthouse, and police fired crowd-control munitions back at them.
Several Officers sustained injuries throughout the night, mostly due to mortars and fireworks thrown at them by members of the crowd, which exploded on or near them.
Most of the crowd was dispersed by 4:30 a.m.
KOIN 6 News, a partner of the Pamplin Media Group, contributed to this article. You can find their story with video here.
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