PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Protesters repeatedly set fire late Monday night to a police union headquarters building and were repelled by officers spraying tear gas, officials said. Twenty-five people were arrested amid clashes that stretched into Tuesday morning.
Portland has been gripped by nightly protests for nearly three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Demonstrations, often violent, have targeted police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some people in the Black community have decried the violence, saying it is counterproductive.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump renewed calls to have Gov. Kate Brown and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler call in the state’s National Guard.
“They must stop calling these anarchists and agitators ‘peaceful protestors’. Come back into the real world! The Federal Government is ready to end this problem immediately upon your request,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
Brown responded on Twitter to Trump’s demand, calling it “political theater.”
People in a group of about 300 people late Monday hurled rocks and bottles at officers and set three fires to the sides of the building and one to an awning, police said. All the fires were put out. One demonstrator climbed atop the building’s roof to unfurl a banner and the building’s walls were spray-painted, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Brown said the state’s National Guard is currently focused on fighting wildfires, distributing personal protective equipment and unemployment.
“It’s time for the violence and vandalism to end so Portland can focus on the important work to be done to achieve real change for racial justice. Those who have committed acts of violence will be held accountable,” Brown wrote.
The governor said she would like to talk to Trump about “what we actually need,” including financial resources, N-95 masks and testing supplies.
In July the federal government sent agents to protect federal property in downtown Portland. Crowds grew into the thousands and agents repeatedly clashed with people over a two-week period, deployed tear gas and arrested people they said were hurling objects and trying to hurt agents and damage property. Wheeler himself was tear gassed one night when he showed up at the protests.
The agents pulled back from a visible presence downtown, but it’s unclear how many remained in Portland, under an agreement in which State Police would be deployed to downtown. The State Police left after the agreed upon two-week monitoring period.
Before dawn Monday, police used tear gas to scatter demonstrators who hurled rocks, bottles and fireworks at officers and set fires in the streets as they marched on a precinct station. Twenty-three people were arrested.
During that demonstration, a group of about 200 lit a dumpster on fire and used it as a shield as they approached the station, police said. They threw objects at officers, hitting some positioned on the roof, and lit an awning on fire. One officer suffered a wrist injury after he was hit with a piece of ceramic.
Associated Press writer Allan Clendenning contributed from Phoenix.
Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.