The mood in downtown Portland, Ore., late Saturday evening was lively and protesters appeared rejuvenated as several thousand people took to the streets in front of the federal courthouse, calling for federal agents to leave and for an end to police brutality and racism.
The confrontation between protesters and police escalated when authorities declared a riot after protesters breached a fence surrounding the courthouse. Police described via Twitter the “violent conduct of people downtown” as creating a “grave risk of public alarm.”
Police demanded people leave the area surrounding the courthouse, around 1:20 a.m. Sunday, and said that those who fail to adhere may be arrested or subjection to teargas and impact weapons. Federal agents had used tear gas on the crowd hours earlier in what has become a nightly standoff that has reawakened protests across the country.
That sense of solidarity echoed Saturday when protests erupted once more in cities across the U.S., including Seattle, Austin, Texas, and downtown Los Angeles. Demonstrators were marching against police brutality following the May death of George Floyd and President Trump’s recent orders to send federal agents into cities.
Protesters also rallied in Oakland Saturday evening at an event organized by Wall of Moms Bay Area, Refuse Fascism Bay Area and Vigil for Democracy.
The protests in Seattle turned violent and according to the Associated Press, 21 officers suffered minor injuries and 40 arrests were made. In downtown Portland, protesters from all walks of life came to the federal courthouse Portland to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement, including teachers, Portland-area healthcare workers and LGBTQ allies.
During the day, protesters took to the streets in other parts including a large group of demonstrators in north Portland. The group marched around the police precinct, which was heavily guarded by officers wearing riot gear.
At the federal courthouse in downtown Portland, protesters wearing gas masks and helmets continued their standoff with federal agents by setting off fireworks and using leaf blowers and hockey sticks to return the plumes of white tear gas back toward federal agents.
Mitchell Felton, 26, and his friend Zach Woods, 21, were among the protesters who saw federal agents as they emerged from the federal courthouse.
The pair are from South Carolina and were on a road trip when they decided to stop in Portland in order to participate in the protest.
“We decided to come because we wanted to show our support to Portland and for the Black Lives Matter movement,” Felton said.
Up the street, about a block away from the federal courthouse, protesters started an impromptu dance party for a few minutes as music blared from loudspeakers.
Nearby, Eboni Washington, 36, said she felt compelled to come out because she wants to demonstrate solidarity with protesters who have taken to the streets in cities across the country Saturday to protest against police brutality and the presence of federal officers sent by President Trump.
“I’m proud to be Black. And I want to show everyone that what we need right now is more solidarity,” she said as she leaned against a building about a block from the federal courthouse.
“Especially in Portland. I have friends who’ve gotten shot by the police. I’m here for them.”
At 1 a.m., the situation escalated when protesters tore down the protective fence that lined the perimeter of the federal courthouse.
About an hour later, several dozen agents in camouflage left the courthouse and pushed protesters several blocks away using teargas and other munitions. Protesters dispersed but eventually regrouped.
When federal agents retreated back to the courthouse at 2:30 a.m., protesters cheered.
(The Associated Press and Bay City News contributed to this story)
-By Melissa Etehad, Los Angeles Times