Federal law enforcement officers face off demonstrators during a protest against racial inequality and police violence in Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 26, 2020.
Caitlin Ochs | Reuters
Protests took a violent turn in several U.S. cities overnight, with demonstrators squaring off against agents outside a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, forcing police in Seattle to retreat into a station house and setting fire to vehicles during unrest in California and Virginia.
A protester in Austin, Texas, who was apparently armed with a rifle was shot and killed after witnesses say he approached a car that had driven through a march against police violence. And someone was shot and wounded in Aurora, Colorado, after a car drove through a protest there, authorities said.
The unrest Saturday and early Sunday stemmed from the weeks of protests over racial injustice and the police treatment of people of color that flared up after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after a white police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd begged for air.
In Seattle, police officers retreated into a precinct station early Sunday, hours after large demonstrations in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Some demonstrators lingered after officers filed into the department’s East Precinct around 1 a.m., but most cleared out a short time later, according to video posted online.
At a late-night news conference, Seattle police Chief Carmen Best called for peace. Rocks, bottles, fireworks and mortars were fired at police during the weekend unrest, and police said they arrested at least 45 people for assaults on officers, obstruction and failure to disperse. Twenty-one officers were hurt, with most of their injuries considered minor, police said.
In Portland, thousands of people gathered Saturday evening for another night of protests over George Floyd’s killing and the presence of federal agents recently sent to the city by President Donald Trump. Protesters breached a fence surrounding the city’s federal courthouse building where the agents have been stationed.
Federal officers deploy tear gas and less-lethal munitions while dispersing a crowd of about a thousand protesters in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on Thursday, July 24, 2020 in Portland, Oregon.
Nathan Howard | Getty Images
Police declared the situation to be a riot and at around 1:20 a.m., they began ordering people to leave the area surrounding the courthouse or risk arrest, saying on Twitter that the violence had created “a grave risk” to the public. About 20 minutes later, federal officers and local police could be seen attempting to clear the area and deploying tear gas, however protesters remained past 2:30 a.m., forming lines across intersections and holding makeshift shields as police patrolled and closed blocks abutting the area. Multiple arrests were made, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many.
In the Texas capital of Austin, a protester was shot and killed Saturday night after witnesses say he approached a car that had driven through a march against police violence. In video streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out and protesters start screaming and scattering for cover. Police could then be seen tending to someone lying in the street.
Federal law enforcement officers are seen during a demonstration against the presence of federal law enforcement officers and racial inequality in Portland, Oregon, U.S., July 21, 2020.
Caitlin Ochs | Reuters
Michael Capochiano, who attended the protest, told the Austin American-Statesman that the slain protester had a rifle and that the car’s driver fired several shots at him before speeding away. Police said the driver was detained and was cooperating with investigators.
In Oakland, California, protesters set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station, broke windows, spray-painted graffiti, shot fireworks and pointed lasers at officers after a peaceful demonstration Saturday evening turned to unrest, police said.
In Virginia’s capital, Richmond, a dump truck was torched as several hundred protesters and police faced off late Saturday during a demonstration of support for the protesters in Portland. Police declared it to be an “unlawful assembly” at around 11 p.m. used what appeared to be tear gas to disperse the group.
In the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, meanwhile, a protester shot and wounded someone after a car drove through a crowd marching on an interstate highway, police said. The wounded person was taken to a hospital in stable condition. Police didn’t release many details about the shooting, inlcuding whether the person who was shot had been in the car. Police said on Twitter that demonstrators also caused “major damage,” to a courthouse.