Portland protesters set fire to police building and clash with authorities | American News

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A fire started inside a police union building by a small fraction of protesters in Portland overnight led authorities to declare the situation a riot and then use flashbang ammunition and cans of smoke to remove hundreds of people from the area.The outbreak in the city of Oregon marred protests in Portland over the weekend amid protests that continued daily, calling for police restructuring and systemic reforms to combat racism, since George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis in May.

The protests in Portland had been on a quieter vein since the withdrawal of federal law enforcement officers in late July, but Sunday morning a clash occurred at the scene of the arson.

It was the second time that such a fire had been started in recent days. Although both fires were quickly put out, the incidents criticized individuals who provoked police by damaging property and other belligerent tactics, unlike much larger and quieter protests, according to an Oregonian report. .

Three officers were injured during efforts to eliminate a crowd of several hundred people outside the Portland Police Association building, police said in a statement.

Rallies had taken place earlier in the afternoon and evening across town.

Seneca Cayson, owner of a black business that has helped organize peaceful rallies in downtown Portland, is concerned that incidents of vandalism and taunting of law enforcement by a tiny minority in the thousands of white protesters turning away from the main objectives of the Black Lives Matter movement.

But he speculated that such clashes also draw more attention to racial injustice and said of white rebels: “We are fighting alongside them to … be equal.”

Many cite competing voices and the harsh brilliance of a national spotlight, which has reduced the situation to a culture war when the reality is much more complex.

“It so happens that the things we care about are hijacked and put on the back burner. And it just gets put in a big barrel with everything else, ”said Neil Anderson, another local black business owner. “We all want the same thing. But so often we drown.

For many, breaking down racial barriers means taking funds and completely restructuring the police.

Portland’s population is less than 6% black, but people of color have been disproportionately arrested by a city program that created a Gun Violence Reduction Team.

An analysis of police use of force released last month found that in 2019, police officers were much more likely to use force against black people and especially young black men than other groups, despite the trends. general to less use of force.

“It’s the whole culture of the Portland Police Office that is fundamentally unmanageable and needs to change,” said Jo Ann Hardesty, the city’s first black councilor and activist who has been pushing for police reform for three years. decades.

“Thirty years is a long time to ask for exactly the same reforms. The difference now is that there are tens of thousands of Portlanders out there who want the exact same thing, ”Hardesty said.

Police said protesters broke into the union building on Saturday night, set it on fire and were adding to it when officers declared a riot.

Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler said the violent protesters were serving as political “props” to Donald Trump in a contentious election season where the president was hammering out a public order message.

Meanwhile, Oregon state politicians will discuss at a special session on Monday a broader ban on police use of stranglers and further restrict the use of force, reported Sunday the Oregonian.

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