Night 61: Feds respond to fireworks and fires with tear gas
Hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets for a 61st straight night of protests against police, systemic racism and other causes Tuesday July 28, amid reports that federal officers could soon leave the city if local authorities step up enforcement.
By late Tuesday night, at least 1,000 people had gathered near the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse and Justice Center. Federal officers issued at least 10 verbal warnings to protesters to stop tampering with the fence and to stop lighting fireworks. One man protesting inside the fenced area held a single flower, and was still there after federal officers emerged from the courthouse for the first time that evening with pepper balls.
Members of the Wall of Moms again linked arms in a show of solidarity and protection. Groups chanted the names of Black people killed at the hands of police and called for justice.
Federal officers declared the event an unlawful assembly around 1:35 a.m. They came out of the building to extinguish a fire. People threw fireworks and other objects toward the officers, who then shot more pepper balls toward the crowd. Eventually they retreated into the courthouse once more.
Around 2:15 a.m. officers from at least two federal agencies surrounded the crowd from multiple directions. They deployed tear gas, flash bangs and other crowd control munitions as they pushed demonstrators away from the federal courthouse. Some officers combed through Lownsdale Square, peering into tents.
Officers clashed with crowd members again near Southwest 4th and Salmon, when some in the crowd launched fireworks at them. They responded with pepper balls, flash bangs, and more tear gas.
As officers retreated, some demonstrators confronted the federal agents who had remained behind the fence. Officers sprayed what looked like pepper spray at one person who had been yelling at them. He was walking away when they used the pepper spray. KOIN 6 News witnessed officers use pepper spray on two other people near the fence.
The crowd had mostly dissipated by 3 a.m. Portland Police sent an early-morning press release saying that the bureau did not engage with any crowds, deploy CS gas, or make any arrests during the demonstrations.
Federal officers and members of the crowds have faced off nightly in downtown Portland. Many days, a fence has stood in front of the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in an effort to keep protesters at bay. In response, many in the crowd have tried to tear down the fence. People have set fires, and thrown fireworks, Molotov cocktails, trash and other items at the building and agents. Federal officers have deployed tear gas and other crowd control munitions every night for about two weeks
Crowd sizes had decreased significantly in early July, but exploded as clashes with federal officers intensified. Some nights, the area in front of the federal courthouse and Justice Center has seen thousands of protesters.
Federal officers arrested two people following Monday night's demonstrations, according to the United States Attorney's Office. One was cited for creating a disturbance and the other was released without any charges, authorities said.
Portland Police also arrested a juvenile overnight near Southwest 4th Avenue and Yamhill after getting reports that people were walking down the street throwing objects at passing cars. Portland Police said they did not assist in dispersing crowds or deploy any CS gas.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story with video is here.
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