Saturday marked the 52nd consecutive night of protests in Portland following George Floyd’s death. Demonstrations elevated to violent levels as the night progressed, and by 11 p.m., the Portland Police Department declared a riot.
Rioters broke into the Portland Police Association building on Saturday night and set it on fire. Agitators also started dumpster fires in Oregon’s largest city.
Protesters chanted: “Every city, every town, burn the precincts to the ground!”
Rioters vandalized the federal courthouse in downtown Portland after removing the protective fencing that was once on the perimeter. One person was seen shooting airsoft paintball bullets at cameras on the exterior of the Multnomah County Justice Center. A man yelled into the courthouse to inform authorities: “We want the fight!”
Federal and local law enforcement deployed tear gas and flash bangs near the federal courthouse to attempt to disperse the crowd. One video shows a federal officer pepper-spraying and striking a protester with a baton several times, but the man seems unfazed.
On Sunday morning, President Donald Trump commented on the contentious situation in Portland.
“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators,” President Trump tweeted. “They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”
President Trump and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler have been at odds on the use of federal law enforcement in the city to quell the ongoing riots.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Wheeler said on Friday. Wheeler was referencing officers from the U.S. Marshals Special Operations Group and Customs and Border Protection’s BORTAC that have been operating in the city since at least July 14.
Wheeler also blamed Trump for recent riots in the city, but was fact-checked by a reporter.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described the federal agents in Portland as “Unidentified stormtroopers” in “unmarked cars kidnapping protesters and causing severe injuries in response to graffiti.”
On Friday, a self-described “afro-indigenous non-binary local organizer” gave a speech that called for the “abolition of the United States as we know it.” The crowd gathered at the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse applauded the idea.