PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Protesters outside Portland’s U.S. courthouse set a fire in the building’s entryway in yet another night of conflict with federal agents.
Officials say the agents responded Sunday night and early Monday by repeatedly tear gassing the demonstrators to drive them away.
President Donald Trump has decried the demonstrations and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf has blasted the protesters as lawless anarchists. But city and state officials say they don't want the federal forces intervening in Portland's protests against racial injustice.
The city's demonstrations have taken place daily since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis nearly 2 months ago.
Portland Police Bureau news release:
Portland Police do not engage crowds during the night
Portland Police Bureau - 07/20/20 2:18 AM
On Sunday, July 20, 2020, people gathered in front of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in downtown Portland. Hundreds of people stood blocking SW 3rd Avenue while dozens of others tampered with the fence around the courthouse.
At about 9:40 p.m. people in the crowd breached the fence enough to allow access to the area fenced off. The crowd chanted and pulled at the fence for about ninety minutes. At about 11:20 p.m. federal law enforcement came out of the courthouse for a few minutes and attempted to repair the fence, then went back inside.
At about 11:35 p.m. people began climbing the fence and at about 11:43 p.m. people pulled down the fence allowing access to the area in front of the courthouse. Dozens of people with shields, helmets, gas masks, umbrellas, bats, and hockey sticks approached the doors of the courthouse. Federal law enforcement came out of the courthouse at about 11:50 p.m. and dispersed the crowd.
Over the next two hours hundreds of people wandered around downtown Portland many regrouping on SW 3rd Avenue in front of the courthouse, in the adjacent parks and around the Justice Center. At 1:31 a.m. a person climbed onto the northwest corner of the Justice Center to tamper with a security camera. At 1:34 a.m. people lit a fire within the portico in front of the federal courthouse. Others gathered around the fire adding wood and other debris to make it larger.
At 1:42 a.m. federal law enforcement came out of the courthouse, dispersed the crowd and extinguished the fire.
Portland Police were not present during any of the activity described. Portland Police did not engage with any crowds and did not deploy any CS gas.