Protests erupt at Portland police building, mayor’s condo

PORTLAND, OREGON (AP) — Fires set outside a law enforcement building that is a frequent site for protests in Portland, Oregon, prompted police to declare a riot early yesterday and detain several demonstrators.

Witnesses also said a car drove near the demonstration at the Portland Police Association building and fired several gunshots into the air. Video posted online showed shell casings in the street. No injuries were reported.

Officers extinguished the fire at the police building and appeared to detain several protesters. It was unclear how many were arrested. The commotion followed a sit-in in the lobby of the Portland mayor’s condo building on Friday night. Protesters issued demands, including police budget reductions and Mayor Ted Wheeler’s resignation, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. A crowd of about 150 gathered outside the building.

Portland has been gripped by nightly protests for three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The demonstrations, often violent, usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community decried the violence, saying it is counterproductive.

Seventy-four people are now facing federal charges related to protests that have rocked the city for three months since George Floyd was killed, the local United States (US) attorney announced on Thursday.

The misdemeanour and felony charges include assaults on federal officers, arson and damaging federal property.

Earlier on Friday, Wheeler said he sent a letter to US President Donald Trump declining his offers to help the city manage the protests. In early July, Trump sent more federal agents to the city to protect the federal courthouse, but local officials said their presence made things worse. The federal agents later pulled back.

Police apprehend protesters in Portland, Oregon. PHOTO: AP