PORTLAND, Ore. — Some protesters attempted to set fire to a building that housed a police precinct in the northeast part of this city, vandalized businesses and tried to barricade police officers inside their station during a protest early Friday morning.
Police declared an unlawful assembly and law enforcement eventually used CS gas, a type of tear gas, on the crowd around 2:15 a.m. to disperse several hundred people after the fire was set and someone threw a firework on the roof of the North Precinct. Protesters also broke windows, spray-painted businesses, shot paint balls at police masks and tried to erect a barricade around the precinct, police said.
Four police were injured, with one taken to the hospital but expected to make a full recovery.
Sgt. Brad Yakots, a Portland Police public information officer, said Friday that two fires were set during the protests. One was in the street and the other was at Mid-K Beauty Supply, which is located in the same large building complex that houses the precinct station, and which Yakots described as a Black-owned business.
That store was boarded up with plywood, which ignited, but Yakots said the fire did not get inside the building.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, surveying some of the damage Friday, called what happened “an act of violence that is completely unacceptable. … I am disgusted by what I am seeing here.”
In the aftermath of the May 25 death of George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer who held a knee to Floyd’s neck for several minutes, Portland has had daily protests. Most of them have been nonviolent, with some gathering thousands of people to hear speakers, often from the Black community, speak about reforming the police an other topics. There also have been smaller protests that have often ended with some arrests, with a few participants on occasion setting street and dumpster fires and smashing store windows.
Thursday afternoon, a smaller group gathered outside City Hall alongside the family of Patrick Kimmons, a 26-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by Portland police officers in 2018. A Multnomah County grand jury declined to charge the two officers who killed Kimmons.
Letha Winston, Kimmons’ mother, urged protesters to apply pressure on Mayor Ted Wheeler and other elected officials to launch a second review of her son’s killing.
“I’m going to get justice and I’m going to get it now,” Winston told a crowd of about 60 people, according to The Oregonian/OregonLive.
During the early Friday morning protest in northeast Portland, four people were arrested. The police said information about additional arrests was still being processed Friday.
The demonstration Friday was different from past protests in that “the demonstrators during this incident were more aggressive and violent than those seen in past weeks,” according to police.
Earlier this month, Wheeler called for a ban on the use of tear gas after it was repeatedly used on demonstrators. The nonprofit Don’t Shoot Portland and two protesters sued the city, seeking to ban the use of tear gas to disperse large crowds.
A federal judge on June 9 issued a 14-day court order barring the launching of the riot-control agent except when a life is at risk. The judge extended the temporary order through July 24.
This is the fourth week of nightly protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which have been mostly peaceful, but smaller crowds have engaged with police almost every night.
Earlier this week, Portland’s new Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the protests have cost the city $6.2 million so far. Lovell, who is Black, made a distinction between peaceful demonstrators and smaller groups of violent protesters.
“To move forward, we must shift our focus and resources into productive collaboration and actions alongside the community. We cannot do this effectively if the nightly criminal acts and violence continue to pose instability and threat to our community and critical infrastructure,” he said.
Seattle Times staff reporter Hal Bernton contributed to this story