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Chaos erupts in Portland on the 79th night of violence after police declare an unlawful assembly

Chaos erupted in Portland for a 79th consecutive night on Friday after police declared an unlawful assembly during a peaceful demonstration and stormed a protester shield line, beating people with batons.  

About 300 protesters had gathered in the city’s Peninsula Park around 9pm for a peaceful march across North Portland that was expected to end at the Police Association building on N Lombard Street.

But even before demonstrators could begin heading toward their destination, cops – changing tactics from the previous nights – cut off access to the streets leading to the police union headquarters. 

Minutes into the march, the crowd was met with a line of police officers dressed in riot gear and squad cars blocking their path, ordering them to disperse.

Cops told demonstrators they could not continue their march because the street was open to traffic and threatened to use tear gas or other crowd-control methods if they did not leave.

Protesters however, stood their ground and faced off with cops for about 20 minutes, according to Oregon Live.

Activists standing on the frontline held up their handmade wooden shields, emblazoned with the Black Lives Matter logo of a raised fist. Others in the crowd were heard chanting as one man played the drums.  

Protests eventually switched gears and retreated up a residential street to continue their march, only to be met by another two dozen cops blocking their path, resulting in another standoff. 

By 10pm, police declared an unlawful assembly, saying people in the crowd had thrown ‘paint bombs and other projectiles’ at officers, however one reporter on the ground disputed this, saying they were ‘paint balloons.’ 

Another journalist said some had hurled water bottles and a ‘white liquid’ at police, according to Oregon Live.

Officers were seen rushing the crowd, hitting some protesters with batons as they ordered them to clear the area. 

The incident quickly escalated into violence and chaos, with some setting nearby dumpsters on fire.  

Drumming pic.twitter.com/5pCYT3utPp

At least one person was arrested during the clash. Police were also seen setting off smoke canisters to disperse crowds. 

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty responded to a video of the scene on Twitter describing cops’ actions as ‘brutality’ and ‘unacceptable.’ 

‘This is the community the police are sworn to protect and serve. They must uphold Portlanders constitution rights,’ she tweeted. 

Demonstrations, often violent, have happened nightly in Oregon’s biggest city for more than two months following the killing of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis after a white officer pressed a knee to his neck.

Wednesday night and early Thursday morning authorities say protesters set a fire and exploded commercial grade fireworks outside the downtown federal courthouse. Several officers were injured and two people were arrested.

The protests in Portland last month outside the federal courthouse saw demonstrators clashing nightly with federal agents dispatched to the city to protect the facility.

The demonstrations dwindled after a drawdown of the agents, who were replaced by Oregon state troopers. But protests turned violent over the last week, mostly near a police union headquarters building miles from the federal courthouse.

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