Fighting breaks out as dueling protests clash in Portland, federal police respond

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PORTLAND, ORE. – Federal officials forced protesters out of a plaza near a federal building on Saturday as dueling protests in Portland by right-wing and left-wing protesters turned violent. The area includes county and federal buildings and has been the site of many recent protests.

Agents from the Department of Homeland Security crossed the square in front of an 18-story federal building. A federal courthouse is also located near this area.

The protest began around noon near the Multnomah County Justice Center in Oregon’s largest city, local media reported. Protesters threw stones and other objects at each other and fought. The streets were blocked in the midst of the chaos.

The footage showed what appeared to be hundreds of people involved, many of whom were wearing makeshift helmets and shields. Some protesters appeared to use pepper spray during the clashes and at least one person appeared to fire a pistol. No arrests have been reported.

In recent weeks, the Justice Center has been the target of left-wing protesters operating mainly at night, when they frequently clash with police. Saturday afternoon’s protests spread to other areas as crowds protested.

Right-wing groups had announced a rally near the Justice Center on Saturday afternoon which quickly drew counter-protesters. The building houses a police station, police headquarters, county jail and courtrooms, and sits next to a federal courthouse targeted for weeks by left-wing protesters who marched clashed with federal agents sent to Portland to protect him.

Protesters at Saturday’s protest included right-wing Proud Boys and left-wing protest groups Democratic Socialists of America and Popular Mobilization, The Oregonian / OregonLive reported.

Portland Police issued a warning about two hours after the protests began, warning that police were ready to start using crowd control weapons if the violence did not stop.

Violent protests have been raging in Portland for months following the police murder of George Floyd in custody in Minneapolis.

Saturday afternoon’s clashes followed pre-dawn clashes between police and around 200 leftist protesters outside another police station. President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday morning: “Another bad night of riots in Portland, Oregon”,

Protesters threw bottles and stones at officers and pointed lasers at them, damaging police cars and causing minor injuries to several officers, Portland police said in a statement.

A protester received medical treatment at the scene after throwing stones at police officers and was shot dead with what police described as a “less lethal sponge bullet,” the statement said.

He was one of nine people arrested. Three were charged with assaulting a police officer.

Many protesters wore helmets, goggles, gas masks and bulletproof vests and some carried homemade wooden shields, police said.

A Friday protest that took place on Saturday morning came a day after protesters in Portland clashed with federal agents outside a U.S. immigration and customs building.

People in a group of about 100 late Thursday and pre-dawn Friday sprayed the building with graffiti, threw stones and bottles at officers and flashed laser lights on them, Portland police said. .

Officers set off smoke or tear gas and used crowd control ammunition in an attempt to disperse the crowd. Three people were arrested.

Also on Friday, a number of federal buildings across the city were closed as the FBI investigated a car bomb threat.

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