Portland police declare riot after fire started outside of mayor’s home

Demonstrators ‘celebrate’ Ted Wheeler’s 58th birthday with protest

Andrew Buncombe
Tuesday 01 September 2020 14:34
Portland mayor blames 'racist' Trump for violence
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Police in Portland declared a riot and arrested up to 20 protesters after someone started a fire outside the apartment of the city’s mayor.

On the 96th consecutive night of demonstrations in Oregon’s largest city since the killing by police in Minneapolis of an unarmed black man sparked protests across the nation, around 200 people marched to the apartment where mayor Ted Wheeler lives.

Wearing black hats to “celebrate” the mayor’s 58th birthday, people stood in the street and demanded that he resign, complaining that he had failed to reform the city’s police force.

At least one window was broken and a firework was reportedly set off in the building. Someone also dragged a picnic bench to the intersection and set it on fire.

Shortly afterwards, officers from the Portland Police Department (PPD) moved in, using loudspeakers to declare a riot and warning people to disperse or else face arrest.

Trump says Black Lives Matter 'discriminatory'

“This was the arson fire that prompted a riot declaration tonight,” the PPD wrote on Twitter, of an image of the blaze. “It was critical to secure the area to allow firefighters to respond to this dangerous situation.”

One protester, who asked to use the initials FO, was using a loud hailer to call on Mr Wheeler to resign and the police officers to quit as well.

“They need to quit, and they need to defund the police,” she said.

Events on Monday night were just the latest flare-up in Portland, a Democratic-controlled city which has been attacked by Donald Trump and his supporters as an alleged hot bed of anarchy.

“Portland has been burning for many years, for decades it’s been burning,” he told Fox News.

Mr Trump also paid tribute on Monday to a supporter of a right-wing group who was shot dead in Portland at the weekend.

Just hours before he was shot in the chest on Saturday night, 39-year-old Aaron “Jay” Danielson and a friend were seen heading downtown to protect a flag-waving caravan of Trump supporters. They wore hats with the insignia of Patriot Prayer, a group that has clashed with left-wing protesters in Portland for a number of years, and appeared armed with knives and paintball guns.

“Paint is a defensive mechanism. Paint is not bullets,” Mr Trump said during his White House briefing, adding that someone connected with violent protests “shot a young gentleman and killed him. Not with paint but with a bullet”.

Cellphone video of the shootings shows both Mr Danielson and his assailant on a darkened street. At least three shots rang out in a smoky haze, followed by images of Mr Danielson crumpled on the ground as the friend, Chandler Pappas, slaps him in the face and rolls him over, yelling “Jay! Jay!”.

The day after the shooting, Mr Trump attacked Mr Wheeler for failing to stop such violence.

But Mr Wheeler hit back.

“It’s you who have created the hate and the division. It’s you who have not found a way to say the names of black people killed by police officers even as people in law enforcement have. And it’s you who claimed that white supremacists are good people,” he said at a press conference. “Your campaign of fear is as anti-democratic as anything you’ve done to create hate and vitriol in our beautiful country.”

On Monday night, protesters were not persuaded Mr Wheeler was standing up to Mr Trump on behalf of the city.

One demonstrator who asked not to be named, said: “He may like to portray it like that, but it’s not the case.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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