Portland protesters clash with law enforcement for first time since federal presence diminished

Two protesters were arrested Saturday evening in Portland as demonstrators and law enforcement clashed for the first time in several days.

The Associated Press reported that a confrontation between protesters and law enforcement occurred near a police precinct operated by Portland police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Officers alleged they were struck with glass bottles and had laser pointers aimed in their direction. No officers were injured, including one who was struck with a canister of paint, according to the AP.

Police reportedly declared an unlawful assembly just before 10:00 p.m. local time and ordered crowds to disperse.


Across town a separate, peaceful demonstration hosted by the NAACP and attended by Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkeley (D) was held outside the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse. Speakers talked about political progress arising from the weeks of demonstrations in the city and in others across the U.S.

Photos taken by the AP showed a small fire outside of the courthouse, apparently set by a protester, being doused by officers.

“The next thing we need you to do is vote like your life depends on it, because guess what, it does,” Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty told demonstrators at the courthouse, according to the AP.

Demonstrations in the city have largely remained peaceful over the last several days as the federal law enforcement presence began withdrawing from city streets. 

City officials and state leaders had sharply criticized the Trump administration’s decision to deploy agents from the Department of Homeland Security to Portland, accusing federal law enforcement of inflaming tensions in the city. Images and videos posted on social media that showed federal agents wearing unmarked uniforms detaining protesters off of the street in the city had sparked outrage last month.

Protests against racism and police brutality have continued for months in numerous American cities following the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis police custody in late May. One white officer is charged with second-degree murder in Floyd’s case.


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