The Portland, Oregon police has declared the hitherto peaceful anti-Trump demonstration a riot; three days into the protest.
A third consecutive day of anti-Trump demonstrations turned violent Thursday night, as protesters began with a rush-hour march and chanting but eventually damaged cars at a dealership and rampaged through the Pearl District shattering business windows into Friday morning, Oregon Live reports.
Police declared the anti-Trump demonstration a “riot” more than three hours after its 5 p.m. start, citing “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.” The bureau said it warned the crowd about the designation, then tweeted that rioting is a class C felony. It later tweeted that 26 were arrested in the demonstration, which lasted into early Friday morning. Officers in riot gear on numerous occasions deployed less-than-lethal munitions such as rubber bullets, which they fired toward people who ignored repeated orders over loudspeakers to disperse, apparently hitting some of them. Police report officers were “taking projectiles;” protesters were seen throwing objects toward officers, and some fired fireworks in their direction.
The officers didn’t move in until after a small fraction of the thousands of protesters became destructive.
In another tweet posted around 12:40 a.m., police seemingly blamed a concentrated group of “anarchists” — or people who reject the idea of government — from turning the peaceful protest into a violent one, Atlanta Black Star stated. The department tweeted that demonstrators were attempting to keep “anarchist groups from destroying property.”
Many in crowd trying to get anarchist groups to stop destroying property, anarchists refusing. Others encouraged to leave area.
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) November 11, 2016
Portland police spokesman St. Pete Simpson also told the Washington Post that anarchists “aligned with Black Bloc groups” to infiltrate the peaceful rally while “covered head-to-toe and carrying weapons.”
“Their tactic is go out and destroy property,” Simpson said of the unruly demonstrators. He asserted that peaceful protesters tried to stop the more violent ones but, “they’re not having any luck.”
Car windows getting smashed left and right. #Trumpriot pic.twitter.com/0JyM69bXUb
— Mike Bivins (@itsmikebivins) November 11, 2016
But did “anarchists” really take over the anti-Trump rally or were things just bound to get out of hand? It depends on who you ask.
Teressa Raiford, a community organizer in Portland, said the rally began as a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest, but things escalated later in the evening as protesters unaffiliated with the group began joining in.
“They’re not coming to show solidarity, they’re coming because they know there’s going to be a big crowd,” Raiford said. “They don’t respect our movement.”
Meanwhile, Gregory McKelvey, a spokesman for the new Portland’s Resistance movement, asserted that his organization had nothing to do with the violence that erupted in the city Thursday night.
Per OregonLive, police reported that officers were “taking projectiles” as protesters hurled bottles and even fireworks at authorities. That’s when police deployed several non-lethal munitions like rubber bullets and flash grenades in an effort to disperse the large crowd.
#NotMyPresident protesters damaged at least 19 cars at a Toyota dealership on Broadway, per a sales manager. Jumping on them/breaking glass. pic.twitter.com/Ab09LWjyHh
— Jim Ryan (@Jimryan015) November 11, 2016
The demonstration eventually moved into Northeast Portland, where at least 19 cars at the Toyota of Portland dealership were vandalized, a sales manager told the news site. Business windows on Northwest Lovejoy Street and elsewhere were also shattered.
“Nazism is coming to America,” organizer Greg Clark told BuzzFeed News late on Thursday night, after officers had moved in to attempt to disperse protesters.
Many protesters have left the park blocks area. Some remain, but fraction of previous amount. Police haven’t engaged, from what I can see. pic.twitter.com/RI4R1xA6G4
— Jim Ryan (@Jimryan015) November 11, 2016
Clark is with the Portland Anarchist Black Cross, which helped organize the protest. He said they were protesting Trump as well as the US government’s response to climate change, police violence, racism, and global capitalism.
“We’re one bad day away from nuclear holocaust,” he claimed. “Trump wants to indiscriminately murder the families of the people who are on whatever terrorist watch he keeps.”
He said the Portland ABC “did not participate in what the state calls vandalism and violence tonight” and did not witness any violence against the state. “I saw people taking direct action against the grip of fascism and global capitalism,” he continued.
Clark ended by stating: “We do not condemn the actions anyone took tonight”.
Anger at the outcome of the election and a professed unwillingness to accept it are widespread on the Internet, despite the conciliatory words from Hillary Clinton and Obama, according to Washington Post. Thousands of people have declared on social media that the president-elect is “never my president” or “not my president,” phrases that showed up on signs at protests. But only a relative few sharing that sentiment have actually taken to the streets.
Trump and some of his supporters were heavily criticized during the campaign when they suggested they might not accept the result if Trump lost.
The protests drew a rebuke from Trump, who met with Obama at the White House on Thursday morning. “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!” Trump said on Twitter, without specifying what he meant by “incited by the media.”
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016
It was his first comment about the protests and one of the few statements he has made since claiming victory over Hillary Clinton early Wednesday morning. In 2012, after Obama was elected to a second term, Trump tweeted: “We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!”
Early Friday morning, Trump took a different tone, tweeting this message: “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country. We will all come together and be proud!”
On Thursday, former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Trump supporter, chimed in, calling the protesters “a bunch of spoiled crybabies” in a Fox News interview.
The Portland anti-Trump protest comes as a reflexive response to the porosity of America’s democracy. The only language the government seems to understand is “protest” so that is type of communication we will be having with them. Moreover, information reaching us suggests that a group of anarchy activists were responsible for marring the entire peaceful demonstration but that is yet to be confirmed. Stay with as we bring you facts behind the story.