Portland Police Declare Third Riot In Five Days

A reporter on the scene identified some of the rioters as “abolition protesters, advocating for a society without police or prisons.”
PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 16: Portland Police arrest a protester following riot declaration on April 16, 2021 in Portland, Oregon.
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Late Friday night, police in Portland, Oregon, declared a riot for the third time in five days.

As The Oregonian reported, “a group of protesters in downtown Portland lit fires, smashed the windows of businesses, a church, and the Oregon Historical Society, and caused other various damage during a destructive demonstration Friday night and early Saturday.” Several gunshots were reportedly fired from a car about a block away from the protest, but no one was injured. According to the outlet, “officers arrested at least four people amid the melee that had drawn several hundred people,” citing a statement released by the Portland Police Bureau just before 2 am on Saturday morning.

“Our community has made it clear that it will not tolerate wanton violence and destruction,” said Acting Chief Chris Davis in the statement. “None of this destruction tonight has anything to do with the important work of racial justice and reconciliation our community and our nation need at this critical time in our history.”

Although the city’s latest riot on Friday night came on the heels of a police killing in Southeast Portland earlier in the day, it “was carried out as part of a previously scheduled ‘autonomous demonstration,’” The Oregonian reported.

Activists have expressed outrage over the recent officer-involved shootings of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old killed by Chicago police, and Daunte Wright, 20, who was fatally shot by a police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center last weekend. FOX News reported that this week’s protests began after the killing of Wright, as Portland police had also declared riots on Monday night and Tuesday night.

A reporter with Oregon Public Broadcasting was on the scene and identified some of the rioters as “abolition protesters, advocating for a society without police or prisons.”

According to Portland police, organizers planned two separate marches on Friday night. Authorities described one of the actions as “a peaceful event” where the participants disbursed on their own without requiring police contact. Law enforcement, however, said the other group included several hundred people, some of whom vandalized retail stores such as Nordstrom, Verizon, and Nike. Looting was also reported, police said, adding “windows were also broken at the First Christian Church, a location known for their generosity in feeding over a thousand meals weekly to the homeless.”

After a riot was declared at about 9:50 p.m., police said, “some of the individuals in the group were observed changing clothing in an attempt to disguise themselves and elude police actions.”

More from The Oregonian:

A standoff ensued between at least 100 protesters and at least 30 police officers.

Some protesters dismantled pedestrian traffic signals at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Salmon Street shortly before 11 pm and threw them into the intersection. A bonfire was lit at the intersection, and a dumpster fire was set nearby. …

Shortly before midnight, protesters overturned plastic barriers filled with water outside the Apple store. The water doused the street around the dumpster fire.

Some in the group appeared to try to break into Pioneer Place. And some protesters lit portable toilets ablaze near the Apple store. Flames traveled to a building, causing significant damage, and firefighters extinguished the blaze.

“No one is entitled to break windows, set fires, or attack police officers,” said Acting Chief Davis. “If you choose to participate in this kind of criminal activity, you can expect to be arrested and prosecuted.”

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