Portland protesters cause mayhem again

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Portland protesters cause mayhem again

Saturday, August 08, 2020

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PORTLAND, United States (AP) — About 200 people, some wielding homemade shields, clashed with police early yesterday for the third-consecutive night as two other Black Lives Matter rallies proceeded peacefully elsewhere in the city, authorities said.

The demonstration with unrest came hours after the city's Democratic mayor pleaded for protesters to stay off the streets, saying those who barricaded the doors to a police precinct the night before and tried to set it ablaze were not demonstrators, but criminals.

Mayor Ted Wheeler said the violent protesters were also serving as political “props” for President Donald Trump in a divisive election season where the president is hammering on a law-and-order message. Trump has tried to portray the protesters as “sick and dangerous anarchists” running wild in the city's streets.

The chaos that started Thursday night and lasted into Friday morning in a residential neighbourhood about six miles (10 kilometres) from downtown marked the 70th night of unrest since May 25, following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. Police arrested 12 adults and detained one 17-year-old on suspicion of charges ranging from interfering with a police officer to rioting.

The demonstrations this week are noticeably smaller than the crowds of thousands who turned out nightly for about two weeks in July to protest the presence of US agents sent by the Trump Administration to protect a federal courthouse that had become a target of nightly violence.

This week's clashes nevertheless ratcheted up tensions after an agreement last week between state and federal officials seemed to offer a brief reprieve. The deal brokered by Democratic Governor Kate Brown called for agents from the US Customs and Border Protection, US Marshals Service and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pull back from their defence of the Mark O Hatfield Federal Courthouse, starting July 30.

Early yesterday, as peaceful demonstrations proceeded elsewhere in the city, a group of people gathered at a park in eastern Portland and marched to the local police precinct, where authorities say they spray-painted the building, popped the tyres of police cars, splashed paint on the walls, vandalised security cameras and set a fire in a barrel outside the building. One officer was severely injured by a rock, police said, but no additional details were provided.

An older woman who tried to stop the vandalism was hit with a bucket of white paint and then got into a shouting match with those in the crowd as one protester tried to wrap her in yellow police tape — a conflict caught on video. Another elderly woman using a walker was also captured on video trying to put out a fire with a fire extinguisher while a black-clad protester blocked her way.

Tear gas was used by police on protesters Wednesday for the first time since the US agents left the city, but officers did not use it Thursday despite declaring the demonstration an unlawful assembly.

Wheeler, who was tear-gassed several weeks ago with protesters as he stood with them outside the federal courthouse, warned the demonstrators Thursday that their actions were helping Trump.

“Don't think for a moment that if you are participating in this activity, you are not being a prop for the re-election campaign of Donald Trump — because you absolutely are,” he said. “If you don't want to be part of that, then don't show up.”

The Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front, which advertised the rallies Wednesday and Thursday on social media, used Twitter to announce the events with the slogan “No cops. No prisons. Total abolition.”


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