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Portland becomes first city to declare protest over George Floyd's death a "riot"

What started as a peaceful vigil to honor the memory of George Floyd in Portland, Oregon, turned into what the Portland Police Bureau is identifying as "a riot." The incidents lasted roughly five hours, during which police said people also took part in arson and looting. 

At 9:50 p.m. on Friday, a protester shot at the occupants of a vehicle that was surrounded by a group of protesters, according to Portland Police. A passenger who was shot was treated for a non-life threatening injury at a nearby hospital and later released. 

A little over an hour later, several hundred protesters arrived at the Justice Center in downtown Portland, which houses a precinct and the sheriff's office. There, they spray painted the building, broke windows and started a fire on the first floor, according to police. Officers responded to the incident and the fire was extinguished. 

"An unlawful assembly was declared and protesters were admonished to leave the area or force would be used against them. Protesters continued to vandalize inside and outside the Justice Center," police said. "Riot Control Agents were deployed and the protesters dispersed from the Justice Center, but remained downtown."

Videos posted on Twitter show dozens of people walking through the broken window glass, setting fire to a desk and spray painting cabinets and walls. 

Once dispersed, police say that protesters walked to Pioneer Place Mall, where they broke windows, looted stores, and vandalized the property. When officers arrived, protesters used electric scooters to smash out the windows of police cars, the bureau says. No officer was harmed at the particular incident. 

Rioters also started several fires throughout the city, including vehicles and a "large pile of pallets" in an intersection. 

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Portland Police vehicle damaged during Friday nights demonstrations, which police have dubbed "a riot."  Portland Police Bureau

The riots resulted in several injuries, including officers. One police officer was injured when he was struck by a "thrown incendiary device," and a Portland Police Bureau Criminalist was injured when he was "struck in the head with a rock," according to police. At least 13 people have been arrested for various crimes, including rioting, theft, reckless endangerment, trespassing and disorderly conduct. 

As the situation was unfolding, Portland Police tweeted out a message to people in the area:"It is not safe, it is dangerous, there is rioting, leave now."

"We know what sparked the original demonstration and we provided space for those who needed to express grief," said acting chief Chris Davis in a press statement. "The mass destruction we saw tonight in our City is unacceptable. Anger at the police is one thing; destroying our City is another. We know our community as a whole does not condone mass destruction. In the coming days, we will be increasing our police presence, leaning on our partners, and working with the community to restore safety."

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler posted on Twitter that the actions were "disgusting," and is not a way to call for meaningful change in the community. He declared a State of Emergency and imposed a curfew on the city. The curfew was in effect until 6 a.m. Saturday and resumes from 8 p.m. on Saturday night to 6 a.m. on Sunday.

"Burning buildings with people inside, stealing from small and large businesses, threatening and harassing reporters," he tweeted. "All in the middle of a pandemic where people have already lost everything."

Protests have erupted nationwide over the death of George Floyd, who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes while he pleaded for air while handcuffed. Protests in Minneapolis continued Saturday for the fifth day as they spread throughout the country, turning violent in some areas. 

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