Portland Police declared the protest of about 4,000 people to be a riot after “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.”
PORTLAND — An anti-Trump protest in downtown Portland escalated after some demonstrators smashed windows, spray-painted buildings and lit a dumpster fire, culminating with officers firing rubber baton rounds and arresting at least 26 people who refused to disperse.
Police declared Thursday night’s protest of about 4,000 people a riot after “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.” Demonstrators threw glass bottles and a trash can at officers, whose repeated orders to leave were ignored. Police then fired rubber baton rounds and pepper spray at the group.
Officers took several protesters to the ground and arrested them. Police had warned on Twitter that those taken into custody could face a felony riot charge.
What started as a peaceful demonstration turned destructive when some protesters caused significant damage to vehicles at a car dealership, police said.
Some also used rocks and baseball bats to smash the windows of businesses and start small fires as they moved through the city’s Pearl District, a showcase neighborhood and site of many boutiques and art galleries.
A woman threw laundry detergent at protesters, sparking an altercation.
“Many in crowd trying to get anarchist groups to stop destroying property, anarchists refusing,” police tweeted.
Police told those who wanted to peacefully demonstrate to head back to Pioneer Courthouse Square and said at 10 p.m. that protesters who had not returned were under arrest. Soon after, a crowd marched through the streets.
Protest organizer Gregory McKelvey decried the vandalism in a statement early Friday. He apologized to businesses that suffered damage and said the group planned to help clean up.
“We made it very clear that ours was a movement born out of love, infused by peace and inhospitable to those that would put us all at risk in the name of actions that are inflammatory, divisive and strategically ill-conceived,” he said. “That remains our goal.”
The Oregon Department of Transportation intermittently closed portions of Interstates 5 and 84 in the area as a precaution during the protest. Officials urged travelers to watch for people in unexpected places on roads.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said earlier in the day that he supports peaceful protest by people exercising their constitutional rights but cautioned that walking on freeways and blocking light rail lines is dangerous.