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Riot declared in downtown Portland and protesters tear-gassed

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden on "The Takeout"
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden on "The Takeout" — 7/31/2020 42:39

Police declared a riot late Wednesday night after hundreds of demonstrators returned to downtown Portland after more than a week when the biggest events were held in other parts of the city, reports the CBS affiliate there, KOIN-TV. As many as 300 people had gathered by about 9:30 p.m.

The gathering remained largely peaceful until about 11 p.m., when a couple of small fires were lit near the federal courthouse. A fake pig's head and a Trump flag were set ablaze in the middle of a major thoroughfare. Some fireworks and other objects were thrown over the fence surrounding the courthouse.

Meanwhile, private vehicles kept traffic from entering the protest area. Less than half an hour later, police warned the crowd over a speaker that criminal activity was occurring near the courthouse and needed to stop.

Portland police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly at 11:30 p.m., cautioning that those who failed to leave would be subject to the use of tear gas, crowd control agents or other impact weapons. They called it a riot just minutes before midnight.

Large numbers of Oregon State Police troopers, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office deputies and Portland police officers took to the streets to disperse the crowds, making arrests and deploying tear gas as they moved.

KOIN reporters witnessed authorities pepper spraying at least one person.

The vast majority of the demonstrators had dispersed by 1 a.m.

Wednesday's planned demonstrations followed a Tuesday night with no arrests and no physical clashes between crowd members and police. 

Protesters have gathered each night in Portland since the killing of George Floyd in late May. Floyd, a Black man, died with a White officer pressing his knee to Floyd's neck.

Protests had dwindled before President Trump sent federal agents to the liberal city early last month. They've since withdrawn. Demonstrations over the last week had been much smaller and targeted local police facilities.

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