Rioters began erecting tents and setting up barricades in Lownsdale Square in the downtown Portland neighborhood on Tuesday, July 14. The park is right next to several courthouses, including the Multnomah County Justice Center, where a majority of Antifa and BLM’s nightly clashes with the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) occur, and the Pioneer Courthouse, a federal courthouse that officers from Homeland Security are trying to protect. The square was also home to the Occupy Portland encampments that were erected in 2011. (Related: Antifa rioters in Portland attempt to create another autonomous zone – they instead turn the city into a WAR ZONE.)
The PPB said that the demonstrators began their assembly at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland on Tuesday before they marched downtown and gathered in front of the Pioneer Courthouse Square, several blocks north from Lownsdale Square. This event was regarded as generally peaceful, with several speakers talking about racial equality and reforming law enforcement. After the demonstrators listened to the speakers, the crowd either dispersed or reconvened in front of the Justice Center, where the peaceful assembly quickly transformed into a violent riot.
At around 9:15 p.m., the PPB said that the mob at the Justice Center began attempting to illegally occupy the area by standing in the middle of the road to block traffic through several streets. They then set up a series of barricades there to cordon off the area using “industrial kitchen appliances, road blockades and flashing traffic signs.”
The rioters also started a fire near where a famous 120-year-old statue of an elk once stood. Several other fires were also lit. Fortunately, none of these spread to private property.
At around 1 a.m. on Wednesday, July 15, the rioters left their barricades “in an organized effort” and walked to the Central Precinct Building of the PPB, where they began harassing officers who were at the end of their shifts.
Around the same time, other elements of the PPB removed some of the barricades of the rioters. However, these were simply rebuilt after the officers disengaged and the rioters returned to the area.
Reports show that the rioters also attacked the officers by shining lasers into their eyes and throwing projectiles such as glass bottles. The PPB reported that they did not use tear gas and crowd control munitions such as rubber bullets. They also did not attempt to forcibly disperse the demonstrators.
Furthermore, after the PPB left the area, the rioters immediately started fighting with each other. One person reportedly tried to burn down one of the barricades, which caused an altercation with another person tried to put out the fire while several other people began rebuilding parts of the barricade.
The crowd dissipated over several hours, and by 5 a.m. only around a dozen demonstrators were still on the newly-erected barricades.
To assist Portland police in controlling the riots that have broken out in the city, the federal government has sent in agents to the city. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, however, is actually telling these officers to leave. This is despite the fact that the PPB has its hands full dealing with violent rioters every night, the establishment of a new autonomous zone and needing to investigate the sudden rise in shootings and homicides that come with illegal occupations.
Wheeler has been critical of the presence of federal agents in Portland for a while now. On Tuesday, he amped up his criticism online by tweeting that the officers were escalating the violence in the city’s streets.
“The best thing they can do is stay inside [federal buildings], or leave Portland altogether,” Wheeler wrote. “Our goal is to end these violent demonstrations quickly and safely.”
Wheeler does not have the authority to oust the federal officers. He can, however, ask them to leave.
The mayor also took time out of his busy schedule to attack President Donald Trump’s proclamation that he has done a “great job” in quelling the protests with the help of federal officers. Wheeler wrote that Trump’s “heavy-handed approach” to dealing with the violent mobs has led to reports of serious injuries among the demonstrators.
Wheeler said that he had spoken with Chad Wolf, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, who asked the mayor about how the agency can further help their efforts to subdue the civil unrest.
“I told the Acting Secretary that my biggest immediate concern is the violence federal officers brought to our streets in recent days, and the life-threatening tactics his agents use. We do not need or want their help.”
The mayor added that, instead of supplementing the overworked members of the PPB with federal agents, they should instead devote their resources to cleaning up the federal buildings in Portland, which have been routinely vandalized every night since the riots began in late May.
It seems that the PPB stands alone in protecting the city, as even state officials have turned their backs on Portland. Wheeler’s remarks come as several Democratic representatives sent a letter to Acting Secretary Wolf and Attorney General William Barr condemning the federal response to the riots, saying that the disproportionate use of force is “intolerable.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer, who are demanding that Wolf and Barr answer nine questions concerning the presence of federal troops in their state.
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