Police arrested dozens of people and used tear gas against hundreds of protesters in Portland late Saturday as the western US city celebrated 100 days after the Black Lives Matter protests erupted against racism and police brutality.
Police quickly declared the rally a “riot” after demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at it, and they responded with floods of tear gas to disperse the crowd.
At least one person was injured by the fire bombs, the police said.
Officials arrested dozens of protesters in a subsequent cat-and-mouse game through a residential neighborhood in east Portland.
“It was day 100 for protests against Black Lives Matter in Portland since George Floyd’s murder and they wanted to keep us from marching,” said 20-year-old protester Jay, whose eyes were red from tear gas.
“It is our constitutional right to be here and express ourselves.”
Police said the people were “involved in turbulent and violent behavior, which intentionally or recklessly created a serious risk of setting off a public alarm.”
“This is a riot. The police are making announcements to disperse. People are throwing Molotov cocktails,” Portland police said on Twitter.
The nightly protests were sparked by the death of George Floyd, who was in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
Floyd’s death sparked similar protests across the country, but in Portland – a city of 650,000 and more than 70 percent white – activists have been on the streets practically every night demanding racial justice and police accountability.
President Donald Trump has besieged the city as being “thugs” involved in “domestic terrorism”, even though the demonstrations were largely peaceful.
Tensions escalated again last weekend after a man identified as a right-wing supporter was shot dead.
– Memorial to shooting victims –
On Saturday before, hundreds of people gathered in a park near Portland at a memorial to Aaron “Jay” Danielson, a supporter of the far-right group Patriot Prayer.
The 39-year-old was fatally shot after joining pro-Trump supporters who came to Portland and sparked confrontations with counter-protesters from the Black Lives Matter.
The shooting suspect, Michael Reinoehl, 48, was killed in neighboring Washington state when police tried to arrest him.
The circumstances of Danielson’s death are still under investigation, but Reinoehl appeared to confirm shooting him in an interview with Vice News.
“We’re in the middle of a civil war between good and bad, the good, the good are all the people you see here,” said Dann, 50, who knew Danielson through Patriot Prayer and pointed out the families that were nearby of an imposing house set up a barbecue between camping chairs and numerous American flags for the occasion.
“The evil is the liberals who let these cities of Antifa, BLM, destroy whatever you want to call them,” he said.
Aside from the tribute to the victim and the group of men with assault rifles or pistols, the atmosphere in the park in Vancouver north of Portland was almost partisan.
But then it was gloomy about the preparations for the presidential election.
“The next two months will be horrific. There will be more violence. There will be more atrocities. There will be more names,” he predicted.
Daparu De Crusha, 51, wore a skateboard and a gun on his belt, said BLM protesters were trying to destroy the American family.
The former publicist was convinced that Danielson was not killed by accident.
“I think it was orchestrated, it was a hunt,” he said. “There was going to be a human sacrifice that night and Jay Danielson was its victim,” he said.
After quoting conspiracy theories about China and Bill Gates, De Crusha said that Trump’s victory or defeat on November 3 would not change the country’s problems.
“It won’t end with the election,” Dann agreed.
“The only thing that will stop it is if we, the people, stand up for our rights and don’t allow ourselves to be intimidated,” he said, wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap and wearing a “We the People” – Tattoo on his arm.
In his homage to Danielson, Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson, who denies advocacy for white supremacy, insisted on rejecting hatred and violence.
“I don’t want anyone to encourage violence on Jay’s behalf,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)