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Portland police declare a riot as New Year's Eve protest gets out of control

Portland police declared a riot just before 11 p.m. local time on New Year's Eve after protesters broke windows, shot off fireworks and set fires near the federal courthouse, CBS News affiliate KOIN reported.

Less than half an hour later Portland police advanced on the protesters, who responded by shooting fireworks at them, KOIN said. Department of Homeland Security officers, who've been in the city for months to help police deal with regular protests that have often turned violent, faced off against another group in the city.

KOIN said police used pepper spray or mace against the protesters at the main site, near the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse building, and that pepper balls, rubber bullets or some other type of less-lethal munition was heard being fired.

Protesters gathered in downtown Portland near the police headquarters earlier in the evening and then marched through the streets, breaking a Starbucks window before shooting off fireworks, spraying graffiti on several buildings and setting a couple fires on the road or sidewalk.

KOIN said there was no clear focus for the gathering, but fliers at the scene said it was being held "In Solidarity with BLM." The demonstration was publicized via posts on social media.

At one point the protesters took aim with fireworks at the court building.

It came a day after almost a dozen Portland businesses were vandalized downtown, KOIN quoted the Portland police as saying, including Portland City Hall, the Oregon Historical Society, TriMet and the Portland Police Bureau.

KOIN said no arrests had been made but an investigation was ongoing.

Washington Post details how secretive federal agents detained Portland protesters 08:28

Portland has been rocked by protests since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Under orders from the Trump administration, federal agents deployed to Portland in July to quell violence. After weeks of violent clashes that included tear gas being deployed on protesters and dozens of arrests, the federal agents began withdrawing at the end of July.   

President Trump used the Portland protests as a rallying cry in his failed bid for reelection, casting himself as a "law and order" leader amid nationwide unrest. 

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