Oregon’s biggest city appeared to have a quiet Saturday night after months of dramatic protests downtown near its federal buildings.
On Saturday afternoon, however, federal authorities forced demonstrators away from a plaza near a federal building as dueling demonstrations by right-wing and left-wing protesters turned violent.
The area includes county and federal buildings and has been the site of numerous recent protests. Department of Homeland Security officers moved through the plaza across from an 18-story federal building. A federal courthouse is also near that area.
Violent demonstrations have gripped Portland for months, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
The Saturday afternoon demonstration involving hundreds of people began about noon near the Multnomah County Justice Center in Oregon’s biggest city, local media outlets reported. Demonstrators hurled rocks and other items at each other and got into fights. Streets were blocked amid the mayhem.
Right-wing groups had announced a rally near the Justice Center Saturday afternoon that quickly drew counter demonstrators.
No arrests were reported.
In a statement, Portland Police said there had been questions about why the afternoon gathering wasn’t declared a riot and why city police officers didn’t intervene. Incident commanders have to determine whether police action will make things more dangerous, the statement said.
“In this case there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd,” police said. “Additionally, [Portland police officers] have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations.”