Demonstrators in Portland set fires, blocked traffic, and damaged property overnight but met no challenges from police.
Few law enforcement officers were visible downtown, days after the state agreed to help quell continued violence at and near a federal courthouse. No Portland police officers engaged with the crowd, the police bureau said in an incident summary. According to video footage from the scene, no federal officers engaged in crowd control. Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies were stationed near the Justice Center, a few blocks from the Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse, but they didn’t appear to respond to any of the crimes being committed.
Video showed multiple fires set in the vicinity of the courthouse into the early hours of Aug. 1.
One fire was boosted by plywood ripped off a business while demonstrators added American flags to another directly in front of the courthouse to keep the flames stoked. A Bible was also burned.
Some protesters have urged people to refrain from damaging property or attacking the building. Groups are aligned with city and state officials, who want federal officers to leave.
“You can’t contain yourself, or what? Is there a problem? Are you not raised right by your family, or what? What’s going on here? Why attack the building? I don’t want to deal with the feds again. It’s horrible. It’s pathetic. Grow up,” one man told a portion of the crowd early Saturday.
Others tried provoking a response from federal officers, banging on a garage door at the federal building and launching projectiles at it.
Activist chants include “ACAB,” or “all cops are [expletive],” and graffiti downtown includes “Dead Feds” and “Kill All Cops.”
“If you are not here because you stand directly against every single cop and every single fed, then you are not here for an ally for everything that Black Lives Matter actually entails,” one activist told those assembled.
The Trump administration surged federal assets to Portland in early July when police officers failed to protect the federal courthouse from rioters.
After speeches outside the Justice Center at around 9 p.m. Friday, the crowd moved to the federal building, the police bureau said.
“Through the rest of the night and into the next morning the crowd was subdued. Some lit fires, climbed the fence outside the federal courthouse, threw objects and chanted,” according to its incident summary.
The large bonfire burned for about an hour before going out.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials said the previous night was relatively peaceful after weeks of clashes between officers and rioters.
“After weeks of violent rioting and nightly attacks, federal officers in Portland saw their first night of state and local law enforcement support and relative peace,” DHS said in a statement.
Both state and city police officers helped protect the courthouse, the federal agency said, adding: “Crowds remained peaceful through the course of the evening; there were no reported actions, and thus no intervention by state or federal officers.”