At least 10 people were arrested in downtown Portland on Wednesday night when protesters in the area became violent and prompted local authorities to declare an uprising.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) said that two large protest groups gathered in downtown Portland on Wednesday night, but only one of them could be linked to reported criminal activity in the city.
Defend Democracy Coalition, which organized one of the protests, told Washington Newsday that the coalition was unaware of any arrests made in connection with its event.
“Although we were in the downtown area, our event was not declared an uprising, nor were there any acts of violence by participants in our event,” the coalition told Washington Newsday.
Just before 7:00 p.m. local time, the MCSO announced that Oregon Governor Kate Brown had activated the Oregon National Guard to assist local law enforcement agencies in responding to protest violence.
“We are not taking this decision lightly,” MCSO officials said in a Twitter thread about the National Guard’s activation. “Our goal is the security of our community. We encourage the protesters to gather peacefully”.
In a series of short videos posted on Twitter by a KOIN TV reporter, some downtown stores were seen with broken windows. The MCSO said that after the outbreak of violence, the authorities also confiscated items such as fireworks, spray paint and hammers from the protesters, and that at least one Molotov cocktail was thrown at the officers until 8pm local time, as well as glass bottles.
The MCSO later announced that the man who allegedly threw the Molotov cocktail was wearing a tactical vest and carrying a rifle “with a full magazine of ammunition”. According to the MCSO, the authorities also found “several additional magazines, an improvised explosive device, a knife and cans of paint spray” in the man’s possession.
A protest group of an estimated 350 people gathered in North Park Blocks, a park in Portland, before marching through the city, authorities said. The MCSO later identified this protest group on Twitter as the one believed to be linked to most of the violence.
Another group of an estimated 250 participants also marched through downtown after gathering at the Revolutionary Hall, the authorities said. “The Unified Command would like to thank these protesters for their efforts in making their event safe,” said the MCSO.
Defend Democracy Coalition, a group consisting of more than 50 organizations in the Pacific Northwest region, promoted their Wednesday event on their social media sites and encouraged participants to gather at the Revolutionary Hall at 3:00 p.m. local time before beginning the march. In recognition of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Defend Democracy Coalition encouraged protesters to wear masks and practice social distancing.
“We probably won’t know the next president tonight. That’s okay,” the coalition twittered on Tuesday evening. “We have done our job and voted in record numbers. We must demand that we count every vote, make our democracy a reality, and swear in a government by, through and for the people.
Videos of the protests, shared by KOIN-TV early in the evening, showed speakers addressing the crowd as they stood in front of a large sign saying “Count every vote”. Some demonstrators were also seen marching through the streets of the city with similar signs, as shown in videos by the channel’s reporters.
In a video update posted on the MCSO’s Twitter page, Sergeant Kevin Allen said that all the people arrested so far have been transported in marked police vehicles. Demonstrators and others in the downtown area were encouraged to follow the authorities’ instructions and leave peacefully, he said.
The MCSO said it supported the right of protesters to demonstrate, “but not the right to engage in criminal activity.
“If you participate in criminal activities, you will be cited or arrested,” the MCSO said. “You will also be subjected to violence to include ammunition to control the crowd or tear gas.
Portland has been a hotbed of protest since George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since the outcome of the presidential election