Portland has been the site of nightly protests for more than three months since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Hundreds have been arrested by local and federal law enforcement and, before the shooting, police made several arrests Saturday and advised residents to avoid downtown.
The chaotic scene came two days after Trump invoked Portland as a liberal city overrun with violence in a speech at the Republican National Convention as part of his “law and order” re-election campaign theme. The caravan marked the third Saturday in a row that Trump supporters have rallied in the city.
The caravan of Trump supporters had gathered earlier in the day at a nearby mall and drove as a group to the heart of Portland. As they arrived in the city, protesters attempted to stop them by standing in the street and blocking bridges.
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Videos from the scene showed sporadic fighting, as well as Trump supporters firing paintball pellets at opponents and using bear spray as counter-protesters threw things at the Trump caravan.
“There have been some instances of violence between demonstrators and counter-demonstrators,” Portland police said via Twitter. “Officers have intervened and in some cases made arrests.”Trump badly miscalculated in Portland
The Black Lives Matter demonstrations usually target police buildings and federal buildings. Some protesters have called for reductions in police budgets while the city’s mayor and some in the Black community have decried the violence, saying it’s counterproductive.
Early Saturday morning, fires set outside a police union building that is a frequent site for protests prompted police to declare a riot.
An accelerant was used to ignite a mattress and other debris that was laid against the door of the Portland Police Association building, police said in a statement. At least one dumpster had also been set on fire in the street nearby.
The commotion followed a sit-in in the lobby of the Portland mayor’s condominium building Friday night.