Violence and rioting exploded again in Portland this weekend as the shooting of another unarmed black man – this time in Wisconsin – fired up Black Lives Matter and anti-police protesters across the US.
The city is still tense after more than three months of angry demonstrations, which have seen police and federal troops using force against protesters – some of whom have in turn escalated their actions, setting fire to police property and using violence themselves.
The weekend’s protests were galvanised by footage of police in Kenosha, Wisconsin firing on unarmed Jacob Blake. He is now in hospital fighting for his life after being shot in the back seven times while getting into a car with his son – who was celebrating his birthday that same day.
Last night, the Portland Police Bureau declared an “unlawful assembly” around the city’s North Precinct, tweeting that “criminal activity has been observed. Rocks and glass bottles have been thrown at officers. Powerful green lasers are being pointed. Stop attacking officers.”
The crowd did not disperse, and the force doubled down. “Criminal Activity has continued,” it announced. “This event is now a RIOT. All persons must leave to the SOUTH. Failure to adhere to this direction may subject you to citation, arrest, and/or crowd control agents including, but not limited to, tear gas and impact weapons.”
Protesters in the streets chanted “Every city, every town, burn the f***ing precinct down!”. Some attempted to set fire to the precinct building, with a firework thrown onto the roof; police used teargas on the crowd, then attempted to drive them back in the streets.while arresting multiple people.
The events on Sunday evening were the culmination of some of the angriest moments in the city since federal troops were withdrawn – not all of them involving the police.
On Saturday, protesters clashed with a large crowd of activists from far-right groups including the notorious Proud Boys, who had arrived to stage a nominally pro-police “Back the Blue” rally.
The police themselves largely stood back as the two sides exchanged blows, paintballs and fireworks, chasing each other down the streets in broad daylight.