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Videos: Portland police union building set on fire by rioters

Police in Portland, Oregon respond to protests. (Dave Killen/The Oregonian/TNS)
July 21, 2020

Hundreds of demonstrators set the Portland Police Association union building on fire and attempted to barricade the doors to a federal courthouse in the city on Saturday night.

The Portland Police released a statement on Sunday, saying the demonstrators “tampered with gates, broke patrol vehicle windows, and vandalized patrol vehicles. People taunted officers as they arrived to work.” The police department also declared the acts a riot “due to the violent conduct of the large group creating a grave risk of public alarm,” the statement added.

Numerous videos showed the destruction taking place in the city.

The fire at the Portland Police Association building was quickly extinguished, though footage showed dumpster fires burning in the streets around the building.

At the federal courthouse, rioters reportedly broke down fencing surrounding the building and attempted to use the downed fencing to block the doors of the courthouse. Federal officers dispersed those crowds with tear gas.

The Portland Police Department also declared the demonstrations at the federal courthouse an unlawful assembly and ordered demonstrators to disperse several blocks away from the courthouse, with the threat they would make arrests and use crowd control munitions.

“An unlawful assembly has been declared downtown. Leave the area to the west. SW Columbia to W Burnside from SW 1st to I-405 is now closed. Failure to follow this direction may subject you to arrest, citation, or use of force including crowd control munitions. Leave the area now.”

The incident comes amid tensions between local leaders and federal agencies over how to address ongoing demonstrations in the past two months. Days earlier, local officials expressed outrage at federal officers making arrests in the city.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler has opposed the deployment of U.S. Marshals, Federal Protective Service, Customs & Border Protection in the city and recently said “the best thing they can do is stay inside their building, or leave Portland altogether.”

Acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf said in a Thursday DHS statement that “the city of Portland has been under siege for 47 straight days” and the “siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law.”

The DHS statement also included a list of recent federal arrests and charges against rioters in Portland.

“We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it,” President Donald Trump also said in a Saturday tweet. “Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!”