PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A riot was declared in downtown Portland, Oregon, on Friday night after a group of about 200 protesters began breaking windows, throwing objects at police, and talking about burning down the city’s Justice Center.
The protesters had gathered in response to the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two people and injured another in Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a night of police brutality protests in 2020. Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges, including first-degree intentional homicide and four others, in connection with the fatal shooting in August 2020.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office officially declared a riot in Portland when the gate to the Justice Center detention area was damaged, although Portland police had also described the scene as a “riot” on Twitter. The sheriff’s office used the Portland Police Bureau’s loudspeaker to make the declaration.
About 200 protesters had gathered in downtown Portland by approximately 8:50 p.m. Some blocked an intersection and chanted anti-police slogans. Police kept an eye on the protesters, and cars were able to slowly get through.
Around 9 p.m., however, windows were broken and doors of city facilities were damaged, including the city print shop between 2nd and 1st Avenues. The police bureau’s Central Precinct was also tagged with graffiti.
Police said objects were being thrown at officers in the area, and one officer’s patrol car had its rear window smashed.
Protesters began to tear down fencing and construction signs to use as street barricades. Trash and other debris were also set on fire in the streets.
Chris Liedle with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said the riot was declared after protesters began focusing on and “tampering with” a roll-up gate at the Justice Center. As many as 20 protesters began moving down that ramp toward the entrance of the jail and put large tree branches in the way to stop the gate from closing.
Deputies and protesters faced off on the ramp. The “hostile” crowd threw “urine, alcoholic beverages, water bottles, and batteries,” Liedle said. The protesters also tried to prevent the gate from closing.
Deputies rushed the demonstrators, got the gate closed, and then went back inside once the gate was secured.
The Portland Police Bureau said one person was “criminally cited” and another was arrested, though that person had an outstanding warrant. Officers pulled over five cars associated with the group of protesters, police said, giving out five citations and 17 warnings.
By 11 p.m., the crowd of 200 had broken up and largely dispersed.
Liedle said the investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information can contact the sheriff’s office via email: IAU@mcso.us
Hours after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was announced, Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell said officers were working on plans for Friday night and the weekend, adding that it was “reasonable to expect there will be some type of reaction to the verdict.”
Earlier on Friday, Lovell told reporters Portland police may call in for help from other law enforcement agencies to respond to any protests, including Oregon State Police. Whether police would call in the National Guard “depends on what information we have and what we feel the level of threat is,” Lovell had said.
Editor’s note: The story initially reported the Portland Police Bureau declared a riot; police later clarified it was the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office as the agency that declared a riot.