PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Protests in Portland, Oregon, were largely peaceful on Tuesday night as thousands of people held a massive rally downtown, but several hundred people broke away at the end of the event, prompting police to use flash-bang grenades and tear gas to break up the crowd.
Police Chief Jami Resch said on a video posted on Twitter late Tuesday that the small group of protestors tried to tear down a fence protecting a building that holds police headquarters and a jail and some in the crowd threw bottles, bats and fireworks at officers. Police declared an unlawful assembly in that area and moved in to break up the crowd.
“Officers will continue to defend themselves, others and the critical infrastructure and preserve life and safety,” she said.
The violence came after an hours-long peaceful event that began with thousands of people crossing a major bridge over the Willamette River and then lying down in unison for nine minutes to signify the amount of time that a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee pressed to the neck of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who later died.
The protestors on the ground covered all lanes of traffic for almost the entire span of the bridge. Demonstrators then gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square, a large public space at the heart of the city.
“To those who are participating in the event in Pioneer Courthouse Square we appreciate your peaceful assembly. Please be advised there is criminal activity occurring on SW 4th and Taylor. Avoid the area,” the Portland Police Bureau tweeted as events unfolded.
Mayor Ted Wheeler had canceled a curfew in Portland earlier Tuesday because demonstrations on Monday were largely peaceful. Protests have erupted worldwide over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
During the previous four days of demonstrations in Portland, approximately 100 people were arrested or cited, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill said Tuesday. The district attorney’s office so far has filed charges in 28 of those cases.
Many of the people have been accused of interfering with a police officer, a misdemeanor, according to police statements and court documents, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
It wasn’t clear if anyone had been arrested late Tuesday.
AP writer Lisa Baumann contributed from Seattle.