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Arrests in Portland, Oregon, protest follow fairly calm rally

Published: Sep. 27, 2020 at 5:08 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 27, 2020 at 1:56 PM MDT
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PORTLAND (AP) — Several people in Portland, Oregon, were arrested in anti-police brutality protests that continued into early Sunday, hours after demonstrations ended with few reports of violence.

The protests that began Saturday night were declared an unlawful assembly and police began forcing demonstrators out after objects were thrown at officers, including full drink cans, firecrackers and rocks, police said.

Hundreds of people had gathered at demonstrations in the downtown area of Oregon’s largest city when the unlawful assembly was announced just before midnight.

Images showed protesters crowded in and around a park near the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse — the same courthouse that had been the scene of nightly unrest over the summer. A protester was seen burning an American flag.

Video posted by KOIN-TV showed officers warn that protesters who hurl projectiles will be subject to arrest.

Several arrests were made, police said, but a specific number was not immediately available. One man broke away from officers and ran two blocks with his hands in zip-tie cuffs before he was recaptured by police. Police also seized bear spray, a baton and a drone in separate stops or arrests.

Videos also showed police grabbing a news photographer and pushing him to ground, as he was trying to document them tackling and detaining a person on a sidewalk, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Freelance photographer John Rudoff was wearing a helmet with “PRESS” stickers affixed to it. He told the outlet on Sunday that he’s “physically OK but am quite annoyed.”

Another online video showed an officer apparently deploying a chemical spray in the face of a man who was yelling at police and waving a sign toward them. Police didn’t immediately respond to The Oregonian/OregonLive’s request for comment about either incident.

The crowd had largely dispersed by early Sunday morning, police said.

Protesters also marched through Seattle on Saturday, with police reporting 10 arrests, scattered property damage and short-lived fires, the Seattle Times reported.

The unrest came just hours after a right-wing rally and counterprotesters largely dispersed without serious violence Saturday afternoon. Although, police were investigating an assault after one person who was documenting the event was pushed to the ground and kicked in the face.

Separately, police said a criminal citation was issued after officials confiscated firearms, paintball guns, baseball bats and shields from a pick-up truck that was initially stopped for having obscured license plates as it left the rally.

Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese praised the minimal violence in a joint statement late Saturday.

“Our Unified Command worked well to prevent violence before it started,” Hampton said in the statement. “Law enforcement officers performed a number of traffic stops and took weapons off the streets.”

“On Saturday, Oregonians denounced hate, racism and violence,” Reese stated, adding that, “the Unified Command was able to help keep the peace.”

Several hundred people, dozens of them wearing militarized body armor, gathered to support President Donald Trump and his “law and order” reelection campaign Saturday afternoon. The attendance was far fewer than the 10,000 organizers had expected after tensions boiled over nationwide following the decision not to charge officers in Louisville, Kentucky, for killing Breonna Taylor.

Organized by the Proud Boys, a group that has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the rally was described as a free speech event to support Trump and police and condemn anti-fascists and “violent gangs of rioting felons” in the streets.

Local and state elected officials condemned the event and rushed to shore up law enforcement ranks as left-wing groups organized several rallies to oppose the Proud Boys' message. About 1,000 counter-protesters gathered at another park.

The events began at noon and were largely dispersed by 3 p.m.

The rally came as Portland has seen nearly nightly protests since the police killing of George Floyd in late May.

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Associated Press photographer John Locher in Portland and AP reporter Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report. Ho reported from Seattle.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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