What began as a third night of protests in Portland following the election of Donald Trump devolved into riot conditions as self-proclaimed anarchists broke windows, sprayed graffiti and damaged cars and businesses until police began responding late Thursday night.
Police said while Wednesday’s protest was largely peaceful, officers received early information that protests Thursday may take on a different tone, with more plans to block traffic around the city.
“People attending any of the various protest events are encouraged to obey all laws and be respectful of others who are using city streets, freeways and mass transit. Marching into and blocking streets is illegal, and dangerous to protesters as well as road users and has a significantly negative impact to our community. Pedestrians walking on the freeway is illegal and extremely dangerous to all road users,” according to a Portland Police Bureau statement.
Early in the evening, the crowds were peaceful, with thousands gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square by 5 p.m. before going on the move an hour later.
Organizers said people from different local activist groups, including Don’t Shoot Portland and Black Lives Matter, had come together to form a larger group called “Portland’s Resistance.”
The founder of Portland’s Resistance told FOX 12 on Thursday, “Trump is going to be our president. We need to save our city and hopefully allow people to come here to be a city where there is hope.”
At the same time, another group was holding a vigil at Salmon Street Springs with speakers discussing LGBTQ concerns following the election.
As the groups began to converge, the protests moved into the freeways around downtown. leading to the Oregon Department of Transportation to begin to close parts of Interstate 5 and Interstate 84 while along with many of the city’s bridges.
At one point, protesters sat down in the roadway to remember Michael Brown, who death sparked outrage and protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
There were early reports of clashes with some of the protesters and drivers,
In one incident, video from the march showed police talking to a driver who had her windshield smashed by protesters. Nearby someone was spray-painting “Capitalism Kills” on a 7-Eleven store.
Police confirmed they were taking reports regarding attacks on drivers and vandalism. Police encouraged anyone not wanting to be associated with criminal activity to leave the area.
The tenor of the evening changed as the crowds gathered at Holladay Park. As the protest grew, police began warning protesters to stop using “fire devices” and noted many had weapons.
At 8:30 p.m., police said due to extensive criminal and dangerous behavior, the protest was being considered a riot. Under Oregon Law, a riot is a Class C felony.
There were more reports of damage, including multiple vehicles at an auto dealership, as well as windows proken at local businesses.
As the group made their way through the Pearl District, people were breaking windows of several businesses. At one point, police said protesters were arming themselves with rocks from a construction site.
Police said many in the crowd are trying to get the anarchist groups to stop destroying property, but the anarchists are refusing.
Around 10:25 p.m., many of the anti-Trump protesters moved back to Pioneer Courthouse Square, while a group of people stayed in the Pearl District and were confronted by police.
Another group of protesters began marching through downtown Portland at 10:50 p.m. Protesters were met by a wall of police at Southwest 6th and Yamhill.
Just before 2 a.m. Friday, the PPB said they had arrested at least 26 people during the riots.
Additional protests were taking place around the country Thursday.