PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After thousands of peaceful demonstrators had already left the sixth night of protests, a number of agitators stayed downtown and some were eventually arrested early Thursday morning.
Despite the agitators, Portland’s sixth night of protests started and ended peacefully as thousands took to the streets in response to disturbing video showing a former Minneapolis police officer, who is white, kneeling on a black man’s neck for several minutes as he cried out for air before he finally stopped moving.
George Floyd’s death sparked nightly protests in Portland, some of which have turned violent. But despite Wednesday’s protests drawing the largest crowds yet, the day remained focused on the intended cause without any breakdowns. The Portland Police Bureau said peaceful demonstrators members used their united voices to stop the agitators and keep the demonstration safe.
By 2 a.m., police say the peaceful protesters had all gone home while some people intent on disturbing the peace stayed behind. Police say agitators were throwing projectiles at officers, started lighting fires and vandalizing buildings.
During this, PPB says one officer was hit in the head and another officer was hit in the jaw with a full beer can.
A civil disturbance was declared shortly before 3 a.m. and people were warned to leave the vicinity. By 4 a.m., the majority of the agitators left downtown. The PPB towed two cars and made arrests, although it is not clear how many.
The PPB has continued to acknowledge that the small number of rioters does not represent the peaceful movement as a whole.
“The Portland Police Bureau continues to have dialog with the demonstration organizers to facilitate safety for all and to allow for the exercise of First Amendment Rights,” said Chief Jami Resch. “Tonight was a great example of a safe and responsible demonstration. This speaks to the testament of the thousands of participants and sends a powerful message. I greatly appreciate the community for expressing themselves while respecting others.”
The chief said a pattern of this unruly behavior breaking out after peaceful demonstrations has been noticed over the nights of protests.
“We have witnessed a pattern of behavior in the past several days where select agitators remain and target the police, engage in crimes, and cause disorder,” she said. “We will continue our efforts to identify, arrest, and hold responsible those who engage in crimes in our city.”