Portland celebrated the new year with broken glass, riot gear and impact munitions during one of the fiercest protests in months.
Hundreds of protesters gathered downtown near Southwest Third Avenue and Main Street beginning at 7:45 p.m. Dec. 31, and by the time the clock struck 2 a.m. Jan. 1, the central city once again looked like a war zone.
Officers alleged that several Molotov cocktail-style "firebombs" were thrown at their ranks, prompting them to declare a riot just before midnight and use crowd control impact munitions and inert smoke.
A New Years protest was held in downtown Portland. It appears to be mostly over pic.twitter.com/LnEqLBI53K— Zane Sparling (@PDXzane) January 1, 2021
Multnomah County deputies and Federal Protective Service officers also joined the fray, as lines of police and protesters clashed multiple times throughout the night.
"Officers were attacked with large rocks, full-size bricks and frozen water bottles. Some officers were targeted by paint balloons that may have been laced with a caustic substance as it caused burning to the skin," according to a news release. "Some law enforcement officers suffered injuries, although no Portland Police officers were hurt."
Police said several fires were set, including one that melted a trash can, a blaze that burned out a traffic signal and another near the metal fence surrounding the federal courthouse.
Police said they were still compiling reports of damage and arrest, though the Tribune witnessed broken glass or forced entry at a number of businesses, including several Starbucks cafes, a VR experience business, the Sixth + Main building, the Portland Wine Bar, Potbelly Sandwiches, Macy's, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Ecru stationery and a Chase Bank, as well as untold amounts of fresh graffiti.
An employee of Standard Insurance said at least 41 windows on the Portland office tower were shattered — primarily the frontage of a Starbucks — with the man estimating that each would cost $5,000 apiece to replace.
"Starbucks is leaving. They're gone. They're not gonna come back after this," the man said. "We took our fences down thinking everything was quiet. Bad move."
A security guard working near Pioneer Courthouse Square said he had watched the confrontation unfold but held back, as he is only paid to protect the Christmas tree at the center of the plaza.
"Mostly they just broke the windows, they didn't loot the stores — except Starbucks, they pretty much ransacked that place," he said.
Several police officers standing by said a man carrying a hatchet had busted the windows of a nearby department store one by one.
"It wasn't as bad as May," one officer said, referring to the first in a series of hundreds of protests that began outside the Justice Center on May 29, leading to widespread and unprecedented looting.
"At least it's not as hot," replied another officer in riot gear.
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