Dozens of violent anti-cop protesters clad in black descended upon an Oregon courthouse, where they set fires and damaged the building Thursday night as federal officers responded with tear gas and flash-bang grenades, according to video and reports.
Footage from outside the Mark O. Hatfield US Courthouse in downtown Portland late Thursday shows a small fire outside the building, which was tagged with graffiti in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-police acronym “ACAB” – for “All cops are bastards.”
Droves of federal officers in riot gear can be seen pouring out of the building in response to the chaos, firing less-lethal munitions at the crowd assembled across the street.
The clash came after a group of roughly 60 demonstrators had earlier ripped down plywood and covered parts of the building with graffiti over the course of two hours, KOIN reported.
Robert King, the mayor’s senior public safety adviser, said the group leading the recent protests in the city is made up of “self-described anarchists,” the outlet said.
A journalist at the scene tweeted that the protest was a continuation of a demonstration earlier Thursday against a proposed oil pipeline expansion from Canada to Wisconsin.
Some protesters also cited the beginning of jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis cop charged in the death of George Floyd, journalist Suzette Smith said.
Smith estimated that the unruly crowd tallied in excess of 100 at one point.
“When I left, DHS officers were still guarding the courthouse portico,” Smith tweeted. “Protesters broke so many courthouse windows that it seems possible officers will need to guard the front of the building until it can be better secured.”
The protective fence surrounding the courthouse was taken down Thursday for the first time since last summer, KGW reported.
But tensions between officers and the crowd soon boiled over as the courthouse doors were being boarded up, leading to at least one person being arrested, the station reported.
A message seeking comment from the Department of Homeland Security was not immediately returned early Friday.
Portland police, meanwhile, are girding for more potential unrest over the weekend.
“We are aware of events planned [Friday] and this weekend in which people plan to gather and demonstrate,” department officials tweeted late Thursday.