Riot declared in Portland as protesters set fire to police union building

Demonstrators staged a sit-in at the mayor's condo building on Friday night

Saturday 29 August 2020 15:04
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Chaos in Portland as protests continue
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Fires set outside a police union building that's a frequent site for protests in Portland, Oregon, prompted police to declare a riot early on Saturday and detain several demonstrators.

An accelerant was used to ignite a mattress and other debris that was laid against the door of the Portland Police Association building, police said in a statement. At least one dumpster had also been set on fire in the street near by.

As officers approached to move demonstrators away from the building and extinguish the fire, objects including rocks were thrown at them, police said. Multiple officers suffered minor injuries, according to the statement.

The fire was put out and several people were arrested, police stated, though exact numbers weren't immediately available. The building was damaged, and a bottle containing flammable fluid was found near the scene.

Witnesses also said a car drove by near the demonstration and someone inside fired several gunshots into the air. Video posted online showed shell casings in the street. No injuries were reported. Police did not mention any gunfire in the Saturday morning statement.

The commotion followed a sit-in in the lobby of the Portland mayor's condo building on Friday night. Protesters have issued demands, including police budget reductions and Mayor Ted Wheeler's resignation, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. A crowd of about 150 had gathered outside the building.

Portland has been gripped by nightly protests for three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The demonstrations, often violent, usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city's mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence, saying it's counterproductive.

Seventy-four people are now facing federal charges related to protests that have rocked the city for three months since George Floyd was killed, the local US attorney announced on Thursday.

The misdemeanour and felony charges include assaults on federal officers, arson and damaging federal property.

Earlier on Friday, Wheeler had said he sent a letter to President Donald Trump declining his offers to help the city manage the protests. In early July, Trump sent more federal agents to the city to protect the federal courthouse, but local officials said their presence made things worse. The federal agents later pulled back.

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