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Rioters Accidentally Set Comrade On Fire While Trying To Firebomb Cops

Portland, OR – A rioter’s clothing caught fire during a firebomb attack on Portland police during another weekend of violence in the city.

Police arrested at least 101 rioters between Friday night and early Monday morning, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said in a press release on Sept. 7.

A crowd marched to the Portland Police Association (PPA) building on North Lombard Street chanting “burn it down” at approximately 10 p.m. on Friday, PPB said in another press release.

Rioters have repeatedly targeted the building over the past three months of nightly mayhem.

The PPA is in “close proximity” to many homes, PPB said.

“Many of the marchers wore gear suggesting that they were not planning to be peaceful, including helmets, gas masks, armored clothing, and some carried shields,” the department said of the mob that showed up on Friday night.

While some officers stood outside the building to help protect it from arsonists, others ordered rioters to stop blocking traffic and to stay off of citizens’ private property.

“A large contingent did not adhere to the announcements and stood in the street blocking traffic,” PPB said.

For over 90 minutes, the officers stood by as rioters shined lights at them and sounded various noisemakers.

The mob then began hurling water bottles, rocks, and a full beverage can at police, at which point the gathering was determined to be an unlawful assembly.

“Few, if any, people in the assembly complied with the order” to disperse, PPB said.

Officers made “targeted arrests” before pulling back, giving the crowd multiple opportunities to leave the area, but the rioters persisted.

One suspect they arrested was bleeding from the head, so officers tried to send her to the hospital in an ambulance, PPB said.

But as the ambulance pulled away from the scene, the suspect jumped out and ran away.

She was later located at a local hospital and cited by the Oregon State Police (OSP).

PPB arrested 27 people on Friday night.

They also located an illegally-possessed handgun in one suspect’s vehicle.

The mob set out again on Saturday night, this time marching towards the East Portland Community Policing Center, which is located in an area with “occupied townhomes,” a school, and a community event center, PPB said in another press release.

Many of the rioters were dressed in black and wearing protective gear, such as body armor, gas masks and helmets, according to police.

“It was clear that the intent of the crowd was not peaceful protest,” PPB noted.

Officers blocked the crowd from reaching the East Precinct, at which point the mob attacked them with “multiple fire bombs,” police said.

One of the explosions set a rioter’s clothing on fire, video footage showed.

He frantically ran towards the crowd and dropped to the ground as several rioters unsuccessfully tried to smother the flames.

The burning man writhed on the pavement as police rushed in and saved him by putting out the fire, the video showed.

Police later located the injured rioter and Portland Fire and Rescue medics offered him treatment before he was transported to the hospital by a private vehicle, according to the press release.

PPB declared the gathering to be a riot, but the violent mob refused to back down.

They began launching mortars and illegal fireworks, rocks, and various other projectiles at officers.

A sergeant was “directly struck” by a commercial grade firework, which then burned through his gloves and seared his hand, the OSP said in a Facebook post the next morning.

“At least one had a ‘wrist-rocket’ type of slingshot launching unknown objects,” the post read. “Rioters lit fires in the streets, including dumpsters, garbage cans, and wooden pallets.”

Multiple officers were hit with rocks during the mayhem.

“Only their protective gear prevented serious injury,” the OSP said.

Police deployed tear gas and other crowd control munitions to defend themselves from the assaults, according to PPB.

Over the course of the next four hours, rioters wandered through neighborhoods trying to find a way around the police blockade so they could reach the East Precinct, put police said they were able to block the crowd’s access to the building.

In addition to deploying OSP and the PPB Rapid Response Team, PPB had to pull patrol officers to help assist with the chaos, severely limiting the department’s ability to respond to calls.

Nearly 150 calls for service were backed up on hold as of approximately 2 a.m. on Sunday.

A total of 59 rioters were arrested during the overnight mayhem.

The mob congregated again on Sunday night and headed over to the PPB North Precinct Community Policing Center, which has also been the target of repeated attacks, the department said in another press release.

“Shortly after arriving, the crowd began chanting, among other things, ‘burn it down,’” PPB said. “Some dragged a mattress into the street…and lit it on fire.”

Police and firefighters did not intervene until the crowd tossed a second mattress and various “yard debris” into the blaze.

At least two motorists accidentally found themselves “stuck in the middle of the crowd” at one point during the night, police said.

“This caused some confrontations, but no known injuries,” PPB noted.

Police arrested 15 people before the riot fizzled out around 1 a.m. on Monday.

One of the suspects was carrying a “glass jar filled with flammable liquid,” PPB said.

Another rioter was found with a “stun gun” and a baton, and police found a “bottle containing an accelerant” and a “slung shot” on one suspect, according to the PPB.

Two of the arrestees were wearing ballistic vests, including one whose vest was outfitted with rifle plates and was marked with the word “press,” police said.

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.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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