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Portland Rioters Attempt To Burn Down Precinct, Hurl Feces At Cops During Weekend Attacks

Portland, OR –Rioters attempted to burn the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) North Precinct to the ground on Sunday night after attacking officers with feces, mortars, rocks, ceramic objects, chunks of sharp concrete, and various other projectiles throughout the weekend.

At total of 23 people were arrested during the overnight riots on Aug. 23, the PPB said in a press release.

A mob of more than 200 people – most of whom were wearing gas masks, helmets, armor, and all-black clothing and carrying shields – began marching from Woodlawn Park to the North Precinct on Northeast Emerson Street at approximately 9:45 p.m., according to police.

“North Precinct has been the site of numerous violent protests, including multiple instances where protesters tried to set fire to the building with people working inside,” PPB noted.

Police blocked nearby roadways and positioned patrol vehicles across the street from the precinct in order to provide officers with “protective space” and to help defend the building, according to the press release.

Rioters “immediately lit a fire in a dumpster and pushed it into the intersection” when they arrived at the North Precinct and used it as a shield, PPB said.

They also wheeled a flatbed trailer onto Northeast Emerson Street and pushed it onto its side in order to use it “as a shield,” according to the release.

“Almost immediately, from behind the shields and elsewhere, individuals began throwing chunks of ceramic, rocks, and glass bottles in the direction of the officers,” PPB said. “At least one balloon filled with feces was thrown at officers on the roof of the building.”

Rioters shined green lasers capable of causing permanent eye damage at the officers, according to the press release.

Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly less than an hour after the mob arrived outside the precinct.

Officers “stayed back” from the crowd for over 30 minutes as they repeatedly warned them to disperse or be subjected to arrest, citations, and crowd control agents, PPB said.

The mob responded by attacking officers and patrol vehicles with heavy metal screws, marbles, paint bombs, bottles, and large street signs that had been yanked out of the ground.

The gathering was deemed a riot at 11:08 p.m.

As police began dispersing the crowd, one of the rioters managed to light a precinct canopy on fire.

Officers located on the roof grabbed a fire extinguisher to fight the flames, at which point the rioters began attacking them with rocks and other projectiles.

A PPB lieutenant suffered a laceration to his hand after being hit with a “chunk of ceramic,” the department said.

Individuals with “’press’ markings” on their clothing threw commercial grade fireworks at the officers, according to the PPB.

Members of the crowd spray painted a security camera, while others scrawled at least one officer’s home address on the side of the building, police said.

Rioters then lit a second awning on fire, which ended up damaging the building before officers could put it out.

Officers deployed CS gas at approximately 11:30 p.m. “due to the extreme threat to life safety and the aggression of the crowd,” the PPB aid.

Police also deployed crowd-control munitions as they worked to disperse the violent mob.

Every time the officers pushed the crowd away, they would immediately return, resulting in further use of crowd-control munitions and even more arrests, PPB said.

During a third attempt to push the rioters away at approximately 1:15 a.m., a sergeant was bashed in the head with a helmet, according to the press release.

His attacker was immediately apprehended.

The mob dispersed after the third attempt.

Approximately 35 PPB officers were pulled from patrol duties to assist with the overnight chaos, during which 23 rioters were arrested.

“As the riot was ending, there were 80 calls holding in the city, ranging from shots fired, car crashes, welfare checks, priority threats, missing persons, and more,” PPB said.

PPB was so overrun with calls and inadequate staffing one day earlier that the department declined to declare a riot because it did not have “adequate police resources available to address such a declaration,” according to another press release.

Multiple conflicting groups gathered in the downtown area beginning at approximately 12 p.m. on Saturday, police said.

The groups sometimes threw projectiles and sprayed bear and pepper spray at one another, and occasionally engaged in “physical altercations which quickly resolved themselves,” according to PPB.

Police used the sound truck to try to keep the groups apart.

“Each skirmish appeared to involve willing participants and the events were not enduring in time, so officers were not deployed to intervene,” PPB said.

Even if officers had attempted to break up the mobs, they didn’t have enough manpower to effectively and safely do so, according to the press release.

“While the activity in the group met the definition of a riot, PPB did not declare one,” the department said. “PPB had roughly 30 officers available for crowd management and there were several hundred individuals associated with the events downtown.”

PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said that the department had to be especially judicious with its limited resources, and further explained that many of the officers had already been working the riots that erupted earlier that morning and were operating on “very little sleep.”

“Additionally, PPB members have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations,” the PPB added.

“At one point…there were only 4 available police cars in the entire City to respond to emergency calls for service,” police noted. “PPB had limited resources available today for the events and many of those working had worked until the early morning hours as a result of the overnight riot.”

As they worked to keep the groups apart, police “located a bucket containing condoms filled with an unknown liquid,” as well as a water bottle that appeared to be filled with urine, according to the press release.

The objects were confiscated.

A crowd of about 250 converged on Normandale Park on Saturday night and marched to the Penumbra Kelly building on East Burnside Street, the PPB said in a press release.

“That has been the target of rioters on multiple occasions over the past few months, including assaults on officers, commercial grade fireworks detonated, fires set, threats to burn down the building, and vandalism,” the PPB said. “That recent history, coupled with the posture of the crowd, prompted the Incident Commander to prevent the marchers access to the Kelly Building.”

As officers positioned themselves on the 47th Avenue overpass to intercept the crowd, four vehicles approached them and refused to leave.

Police needed to set up their line directly in front of the uncooperative drivers, which created a potentially dangerous situation for the officers.

Ultimately, police deflated two tires on one of the vehicles. Moments later, the other three vehicles left the area.

The mob hurled projectiles at police when they arrived at the overpass, then marched back to the park before later reconvening outside the Penumbra Kelly building, according to PPB.

“Someone rolled a mock guillotine with a stuffed bear into the street,” the department said in the release. “The bear and multiple U.S. flags were burned. Paint balloons were launched at officers.”

The attacks on officers escalated to the point that police began dispersing the crowd at approximately 11:45 p.m.

A Portland Fire and Rescue medic suffered a laceration to the shin as a result of being hit by a large rock thrown by one of the rioters, police said.

A PPB lieutenant was hit in the head with a glass bottle, but escaped without injury due to the protection provided by his helmet.

Rioters busted out the windows of multiple police vehicles and damaged the PPB sound truck with rocks and eggs.

Police had to push the crowd away multiple times throughout the night.

“Between 45 and 50 officers had to be pulled from precincts to assist in the protest response,” PPB said. “For most of the duration of this event, there were between 120 and 140 calls holding in the City of Portland. Calls included shots fired, assaults, alarms, threats, and suspicious circumstances.”

Police arrested 14 people between Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

The North Precinct was also the site of considerable rioting and vandalism on Friday night, PPB said in another press release.

As many as 200 rioters attacked officers and patrol vehicles with eggs, bottles, softball-sized rocks, paint, metal railroad spikes, and ball bearings, according to police.

“There were also balloons filled with feces thrown on the cars and even a torn up street sign was used to vandalize the marked police car,” PPB said.

Officers initially stood back “in an attempt to deescalate and avoid the need to use force,” and made targeted, selective arrests, according to the press release.

They deployed crowd control munitions at times and used the sound truck to order the mob to stay off of the precinct property, but the group persisted.

“Individuals were seen using lacrosse sticks to launch rocks a greater distance,” the department said. “At least two officers were struck with rocks despite their safety buffer. A ball bearing struck the loudspeaker truck almost a full block away. A van parked in front of the neighboring Boys and Girls Club had a window broken by what is believed to be a golf ball.”

A rioter wearing clothing marked with the word “press” punctured the tire of a patrol vehicle at one point, according to police.

Rioters used boxes, plastic recycling bins, and various other debris to ignite a blaze in the middle of Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard.

Someone then pushed a dumpster into the flames.

Police declared the gathering a riot just after 1 a.m. on Saturday.

As they were working to disperse the mob, someone in a vehicle unsuccessfully tried to run over some of the officers, according to PPB.

Rioters continued hurling rocks and other projectiles at officers and shines green lasers at the department’s Air Unit.

Multiple officers were injured during the chaos, including one officer who suffered a laceration to her leg from being hit by a rock, police said.

Officers arrested a total of nine people during the overnight attacks.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin


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