Hundreds of protesters demonstrated Wednesday in Seattle and Portland, Ore., against President Trump’s court challenges to stop the vote count in battleground states.
The unrest in Portland prompted the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to declared a riot about 7 p.m. after protesters were seen smashing windows of businesses. Gov. Kate Brown activated the use of the state National Guard to help local law enforcement manage the unrest, according to the sheriff’s office.
Police made at least 10 arrests, authorities said. Officers seized multiple firearms, ammunition, a knife, fireworks, body armor and gas masks from people who were arrested, according to a statement from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Brown said previously she would keep state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers under a unified command into Friday in Portland to handle protests amid the uncertainty over the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.
The Oregon National Guard had been on standby. Brown’s order places law enforcement agencies under the joint command of the Oregon State Police and Multnomah County Sheriff’s Department, which allows those agencies to use tear gas if necessary to quell unrest. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who is also police commissioner, banned the use of tear gas by Portland police earlier this fall after concerns about an overly aggressive response to near-nightly protests.
Portland has been roiled by five months of protests over racial injustice since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Several hundred people marched in Portland on Tuesday. Law enforcement made no arrests, and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office thanked demonstrators for remaining peaceful.
On Wednesday, demonstrators held signs saying, “Count every vote,” and “Keeping hope alive.” Suzanne Thornton, 79, said she was motivated to attend a protest for the first time because of Trump’s court challenges to the vote count.
Election 2020: Americans turned out to vote in this year as never before, and the result seemed to deepen the trench dividing the two warring parties.
“Our president seems to be making such a big deal about it, and we need to clarify what the vote count is for. He doesn’t seem to get it,“ Thornton said. “I don’t have a lot of patience with him because he is such a baby, and I don’t see how so many people in this country see him as a leader.“
Gerry Foote, a 69-year-old former high school teacher, turned out to protest waving a sign that read, “Teacher against tyranny. No hate.” Foote, who protested against the Vietnam War as a college student, said it was critical to prevent Trump from stopping the vote count.
Protesters in Seattle said they were also trying to make sure that the Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice causes remained in the spotlight. Some carried signs saying, “Stop Trump’s racist voter suppression,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “Don’t steal the election.”
Seven people were arrested on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and one person who was being arrested after allegedly damaging property was taken to a hospital after “experiencing a medical episode,” police said in a statement early Thursday. Others were arrested on suspicion of obstruction, pedestrian interference, property damage, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
Police said it was unclear whether the person’s medical issue was related to the arrest. The person was initially hospitalized in critical condition but later upgraded to serious condition, Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said Thursday morning.
Brown, the Oregon governor, said in a statement that it was important “to trust the process, and the system that has ensured free and fair elections in this country through the decades, even in times of great crisis. We are all in this together — so let’s work together to keep our fellow Oregonians safe.”
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