Riot declared in downtown Portland following Rittenhouse verdict

Deputies reported being pelted with projectiles during a demonstration-declared-riot in response to Kyle Rittenhouse's controversial acquittal

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Protesters and police clashed in Portland, Oregon following the not-guilty verdict for Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse, prompting the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) to declare a riot Friday evening.

According to the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), reports of crowds blocking traffic near the Justice Center on SW 2nd Ave. came in around 7 p.m., with one passerby claiming his vehicle’s window was broken by one of the demonstrators.

MCSO authorities said a crowd of a “couple dozen” demonstrators then gathered in front of a vehicle entryway at the Justice Center  with some members allegedly heard chanting “burn it down,” per the official press release.

The gate reportedly opened after protesters were seen tampering with it. Authorities then said between 10 and 20 members of the crowd proceeded to enter the ramp, making their way toward the building’s jail entrance as crowd members propped the gate open with “large tree branches.”

Deputies reported being pelted with “urine, alcoholic beverages, water bottles and batteries” hurled by demonstrators as law enforcement was “instructing them to exit.”

“Because a large group of people were engaging in tumultuous and violent conduct, and further entry into the building would have posed significant implications and grave risk of causing public alarm, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) declared a riot,” authorities wrote.

The MCSO directed PPB to communicate the declaration to protesters via its Sound Truck, a vehicle equipped with a loudspeaker used to give warnings of force “several times” according to police reports. 

“To those gathered near the Justice Center: This gathering is a riot. All persons leave the area now,” tweeted @PPBAlerts. “Travel to the west. Failure to adhere to this order may subject you to detention, citation and or arrest.  You are subject to force to include pepper spray and impact weapons.”

Portland police arrest a man who allegedly exchanged gunfire with two other men near a rally held by the far-right group Proud Boys on August 22, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. A large left-wing crowd gathered in downtown to counter a planned far-right, Proud Boy rally. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

PPB reportedly arrested one individual, 27-year-old Elly Starling, for a warrant, with Portland officers additionally issuing five citations and 17 warnings to protesters. The MCSO reported no arrests during or in relation to Friday’s events.

Rittenhouse, an Illinois teenager, fatally shot two people during an August 2020 Jacob Blake protest in Kenosha, Wis. The protests started after Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot in the back by a Kenosha, Wis. police officer. Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down. Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide, and reckless endangering of safety. 

18-year-old Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly shooting that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism, and racial injustice. 

“Some people may be hurting hearing this verdict today. Please take care of each other in this difficult moment,” tweeted Gov. Kate Brown, among many area leaders who responded to the acquittal. “We have a lot of work to do as a country in building a more just and equitable future.”

“We have an injustice system in America,” wrote Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

“Yesterday was a very difficult day and another example of the two justice systems we have in America based on the color of one’s skin,” Hardesty tweeted in response to Friday’s events. “I’m a child of the civil rights movement and dedicated to the practice of non-violence.”

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said: “Thank you @PortlandPolice for your service last night,” adding: “While I support peaceful protests, I strongly condemn any acts of criminal destruction and violence. This is not advocacy to advance reforms. These actions do not reflect our values as a city.”

“People have a right to be upset, and the right to protest,” she added. “Just as protestors have a right to film the police or anything occurring in public, the press has the right to film what’s occurring in public.”

Local Portland station KATU reported a confrontation after a group of protesters approached a recording crew and demanded they stop filming. After crew members for the TV station refused, the group of demonstrators reportedly attacked a camera operator and were confronted by security guards.

“I’m still learning the full details of what occurred last night but want to make it clear that attacking or intimidating the press is never acceptable, such as what happened to a @KATUNews crew last night,” Hardesty tweeted in response.

theGrio’s Ny Magee contributed to this report.

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