Portland saw street violence Saturday night, including the fatal shooting of a man with ties to Patriot Prayer, a far-right group that attracts white supremacists and has engaged in violence. It was also one of several groups that drove through Oregon’s largest city Saturday in a show of support for President Donald Trump. Participants fired paintball guns and brandished other weapons.
Trump has repeatedly characterized Portland as a city overrun by violence — a view that was bolstered Saturday, as cars adorned with American flags drove through protesters, and demonstrators on opposing sides of the political spectrum pummeled and maced each other on downtown streets and sidewalks.
Sunday night in Portland lacked far-right demonstrators, such as Patriot Prayer and the Proud Boys, and was instead a return to Portland Police confronting Black Lives Matter supporters outside a law enforcement building. At 10 p.m. Sunday, the adversaries and the location were familiar: protesters squaring off with police outside the Kelly building on East Burnside Street — one of several Portland Police buildings that protesters have gathered outside in recent weeks.
Before the night’s protests, state and local leaders argued that the shooting and violent confrontations were the fault of President Trump, but would be solved by leaders in Oregon. Gov. Kate Brown announced a “unified law enforcement plan” to support Portland Police, who have said they’re stretched thin after three months of nightly protests.
It wasn’t always certain that the violent, deadly clashes on Saturday wouldn’t be followed by more violence from far-right groups Sunday night. Internet sites such as 4chan saw anonymous participants threatening further violence in Portland, directed at protesters or elected leaders. But by late Sunday night, those threats didn’t turn to violence.
However, the conflicts between police and Black Lives Matter protesters picked up with just as much as intensity as they have in recent weeks. Shortly after 10:30 p.m., Portland Police declared an “unlawful assembly” outside the Kelly building, calling on the crowd to disperse or move out of the street. As on numerous occasions previously, the declaration came with a threat — that officers would arrest, cite or use “crowd control agents [...]” such as “tear gas and/or impact weapons.”
To those near the Kelly Building, this has been declared an unlawful assembly due to criminal activity. All persons must immediately leave the area by traveling to the WEST. Failure to adhere to this order may subject you to arrest, citation, and/or the use of (continued)— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) August 31, 2020
According to video and eyewitness accounts on Twitter, Portland police pushed activists off East Burnside, appearing to make numerous arrests. That continues a pattern in the last week or two, as police have made more arrests in response to prolonged protests. In some cases, witnesses posted video to Twitter showing police repeatedly hitting protesters in the course of arresting them.
OSP Troopers and PPB officers rushed out to disperse crowds, using impact munitions & pepperballs. They made a series of arrests. #PortlandProtests #pdxprotest #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/cm0pfG1mmy— Portland Independent Documentarians (@PDocumentarians) August 31, 2020
The Sunday demonstrations also came three days after a 2-1 vote by a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed law enforcement to restrict members of the media and legal observers at protests. Some observers took to Twitter to say police were pushing around members of the media, and appeared to be arresting them. However, others posted video showing that police were attempting to distinguish between members of the press and protesters — as they focused on pulling protesters off the sidewalk, handcuffing them and pushing them into police vans.
An officer declares “half this group isn’t press!” and then proceeds to arrest every person not clearly identified as press. pic.twitter.com/wx6QsEZqV1— Suzette Smith (@suzettesmith) August 31, 2020