Hostility between protesters and police continues to grow in Portland, Oregon, after unidentified federal agents began snatching people off the streets in unmarked vehicles. Instead of getting the crowds under control, the actions from federal agents sparked national outrage, and increased the size and intensity of the crowds throughout the city.
Last night, the Portland Police Bureau announced on Twitter that "People have broken into the Portland Police Association office and lit the building on fire."
PPA on fire. Riot declared. Sirens coming from the west. Crowd moving East. Hearing some kind of shots. pic.twitter.com/mzn594pPBa
— Montucky Woodsnacks (@tuckwoodstock) July 19, 2020
The department also said that some officers were injured when protesters threw rocks and paint-filled balloons. There were multiple incidents throughout the city on the same night. While the siege was happening at the Portland Police Association Office another large crowd was downtown near the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse, where protesters removed the fencing around the building.
While the city has just entered the national spotlight this week, protests have been going on in Portland for over 50 days.
Quite the video taken not long ago in Portland on the 51st night of protests. Meanwhile, at the PPA building (Portland Police Association), a fire was set inside that has since been put out https://t.co/WSlpb56VD1
— Cole Miller (@ColeMillerTV) July 19, 2020
On Sunday, President Donald Trump defended the federal government's actions in the city.
"We are trying to help Portland, not hurt it. Their leadership has, for months, lost control of the anarchists and agitators. They are missing in action. We must protect Federal property, AND OUR PEOPLE. These were not merely protesters, these are the real deal!" Trump said.
Portland police wrote on Twitter that they were declaring the situation a “riot” on Saturday night. “This event has been declared a riot. Move to the east now. If you do not move to the east you will be subject to arrest or use of force to include crowd control munitions. Leave the area now,” they wrote.
Federal and local authorities are in disagreement about how to handle the situation and are currently blaming one another for the escalating tensions. The Trump administration and the federal police agencies carrying out the operations have said that these heavy-handed tactics are needed to surprises the protests, and have suggested that the demonstrations have grown because local authorities have been weak and passive with the crowds. On the other hand, the Mayor of Portland and Governor of Oregon have both spoke out against the heavy-handed police tactics, and suggested that these actions have only acted to further enflame the crowds.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler demanded that Trump remove the federal agents from the city.
“Keep your troops in your own buildings, or have them leave our city,” Wheeler said at a press conference.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown accused Trump of looking for a confrontation in the hopes of winning political points with his conservative base.
The situation has caught the attention of lawmakers across the country, who are asking questions about the use of authority. There are already reports of similar tactics being used in places like San Diego, where protests are also ongoing. Federal sources have confirmed that they intend on using these tactics in any cities where they decide it is necessary, and they may have already begun since it is very difficult for these protesters to know exactly who they are being arrested by.
Authoritarian governments, not democratic republics, send unmarked authorities after protesters. These Trump/Barr tactics designed to eliminate any accountability are absolutely unacceptable in America, and must end. pic.twitter.com/PE4YfZ9Vqd
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) July 16, 2020