Twenty four people were arrested in Portland in the early hours of Saturday, after the 72nd-straight night of protest descended in to violence once again.
Officers said on Saturday afternoon that they were pelted with rocks and chunks of concrete, and shared photos of pool noodles filled with nails, used to pierce holes in the tires of patrol cars. One state trooper was injured in the violence.
Portland police showed body armor worn by some of the protesters, and said that some of the protesters were attempting to blind officers by shining lights in to their eyes.
The protest began peacefully on Friday evening in Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland, with more than 100 people gathering, according to Oregon Live, but soon descended into chaos.
People handed out handmade plywood shields in preparation for a potential clash with police.
A group of about a dozen protesters practiced formations with shields, the site reported, and one protester led the group and helped them place their shields into an effective wall.
The march set out around 9.20pm, and after about 25 minutes arrived at the Penumbra Kelly Building, shared by city and county law enforcement – scene of frequent clashes between the protesters and police.
The Kelly Building was where many of the arrests happened.
‘As arrests were made, certain crowd members began throwing rocks towards officers,’ police said on Saturday.
‘As this criminal activity occurred, the crowd also blocked all lanes of traffic on East Burnside Street, not allowing vehicles to pass by. Several people in this group wore helmets and gas masks as well as carried shields.’
Amidst the chaos, the police on Friday night tweeted their apologies to the local residents for the disruption and noise, with officers using a sound truck to blast warning to protesters to leave the scene, which they declared an unlawful assembly at 9.45pm.
‘Officers are having rocks and chunks of concrete thrown at them,’ the police tweeted.
‘Individuals in the crowd are shining lasers trying to blind officers.
‘The sound truck is issuing warnings and directions to those participating in the unlawful assembly to disperse.
‘We apologize to the neighbors who are disturbed by the loudspeaker on the sound truck. We know it’s late.
‘We have to keep our distance to avoid the items being used as weapons against us.’
Around midnight, according to the police, the group of protesters ‘began throwing or launching frozen or hardboiled eggs, rocks, and commercial grade fireworks at officers positioned in the parking lot.’
Police then used ‘crowd control munitions’ to rid the area of the remaining 40-odd protesters.
The munitions were banned for much of June and July under a temporary federal court order. The restraining order, obtained by the nonprofit group Don’t Shoot Portland on June 9, was originally set to last 14 days, but was extended through July 24.
Some types of crowd-control munitions, such as rubber bullets, are only allowed when lives are at risk.
‘As the officers dispersed the crowd, rocks, bottles, and explosives were continually launched at officers,’ police said on Saturday.
‘Because of the danger posed by these projectiles, officers used crowd control munitions as they moved the group.’
By 2.30am a majority of the crowd had left the area, police said.
Those arrested – three women and 21 men – ranged in age from 19-41.
The vast majority were from the Portland area, although one was from Oakland, California, and another from Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The unrest came hours after Donald Trump told supporters at a New Jersey fundraiser that the city of Portland had been taken over by a ‘mob’ of ‘anarchists’.
Trump said that Democrats would allow all U.S. cities follow Portland’s example, if Joe Biden wins the election in November.
This week’s clashes have ratcheted up tensions after an agreement last week between state and federal officials seemed to offer a brief reprieve.
The deal brokered by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown called for agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Marshals Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to pull back from their defense of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse starting July 30.
But after a brief weekend reprieve, protest activity has continued nightly in other parts of the city, with Portland police, local sheriff’s deputies and, in some cases, Oregon State Police troopers on the frontlines as demonstrators demand an end to police funding.
Protests have gone on unabated in Portland since May 25 following the death of Floyd who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned him by the neck for more than nine minutes.
In Portland, the civil disobedience prompted Trump to send federal agents to guard the federal courthouse, which was increasingly targeted in demonstrations that often turned violent.
It was a move intended to quell the unrest but the presence of federal agents instead reinvigorated demonstrators and created a focal point for the protests each night amid concerns that Trump was overstepping the limits of federal police powers.