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Portland protest to mark one year since George Floyd’s murder ends in riot declaration

Protesters in Portland gathered for two demonstrations Tuesday to mark a year since Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, as other officers watched.

The demonstrations carried the mix of emotions — camaraderie, somber remembrance and rage at political inaction — that has been common at protests in the city this past year. Around 150 demonstrators gathered at the actions, and before the night was over Portland police would declare a riot. Demonstrations across the country did not appear to see similar confrontations between protesters and police.

The first gathering started around 4 p.m., as people trickled in to gather at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland. People at that event marched through city streets in the evening, chanting Floyd’s name.

The group eventually took the Burnside Bridge, where they sat in silence for nine minutes and 29 seconds in remembrance of how long Floyd suffered under Chauvin’s knee, struggling to breathe.

Protesters at that demonstration dispersed after a couple of hours.

A group of demonstrators dressed in black then started to gather around 8 p.m. near the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland. Angered by police killings that continue to happen around the country, as well as in Portland, since Floyd’s murder, the crowd and police officers soon stood at familiar loggerheads.

Some demonstrators started a dumpster on fire and pushed it onto a sidewalk near the Justice Center. Firefighters were able to extinguish that fire as police formed a line around the dumpster. Portland police declared an unlawful assembly and then a riot around 10 p.m., as officers used smoke grenades and protesters threw bottles and fireworks in exchange.

Others in the crowd spread out through downtown during the evening and smashed windows at city hall and various businesses. Others scrawled graffiti.

Portland police made five arrests over the course of the night, with most people facing criminal mischief charges. Officers charged one arrestee with first degree arson.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Ryan Haas