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Portland police have declared a riot 17 times, arrested over 500 at protests since May

Portland police at the Multnomah County Building on Tuesday.
(Beth Nakamura / Oregonian)

Police in Portland, Ore., said Thursday that they have declared a riot 17 times and arrested more than 500 people in connection with the nightly demonstrations throughout the city that began in late May following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Data released by the Portland Police Bureau showed that fires were set by protesters on 41 of the 83 nights of protest, acts of vandalism were committed on 49 nights and projectiles were thrown during at least 58 nights.

Since the protests began May 29, police have recorded only seven nights that were free of vandalism, fireworks or intentionally set fires.

“When criminal behavior occurs, especially behavior threatening the safety of those near the event or those targeted by the event, law enforcement must respond,” police said in a statement on the department’s website.

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Also Thursday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring federal agents from dispersing or arresting journalists or legal observers during the ongoing protests. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued over the police actions.

For weeks, police officials have received questions regarding where demonstrations have been taking place in the city, crimes that occur and police actions. In response, the department released a timeline of the protests.

People who have been arrested since late May on nonviolent misdemeanor charges during protests that have racked Portland, Ore., won’t be prosecuted.

The most recent data was from Wednesday night, when police said two people were arrested and protesters lit fires, committed vandalism and threw projectiles,

Police declared a riot, defined as six or more persons engaging in “tumultuous and violent” conduct and intentionally or recklessly creating a grave risk of public alarm.

Protesters clashed with federal agents in downtown Portland for the first time in weeks at a demonstration targeting a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building.

Windows were spray-painted and broken before a riot was declared and authorities used tear gas and other riot-control methods to break up the crowd, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Several officers suffered minor injuries after they were hit with rocks.


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