More than 24 hours this weekend, City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty made two statements. The first convicted Kyle Rittenhouse of acquittal on murder charges for killing two people in a riot in Kenosha, Wis. Another condemned a television camera-damaging attack on a KATU TV group in Portland.
Meanwhile, about 150 leftists beat the Multnomah County Justice Center with eggs and clashed with riot police on Nov. 19.
It was a small-scale protest by Portland standards, but as big as anything per inhabitant in the country since Rittenhouse’s verdict, when people broke windows and representatives of the Sheriff of Multnomah County dispersed the crowd.
And Hardesty’s two statements summarize what has become familiar in this city: National rage is followed by a small number of police abolitionist forces destroying property, which in turn elevates Portland to national headlines.
If Rittenhouse’s verdict was felt more deeply in Portland than elsewhere, it may be because this city is one of the few where political violence on the streets has become fatal. Weeks after the Kenosha shooting, an anti-fascist named Michael Reinoehl shot and killed a Trump supporter named Aaron Jay Danielson outside the Portland parking garage. (The anti-refugee task force later killed Reinoehl.)
On Friday at about 7:30 p.m., members of the black-clad crowd covered their identities with spray paint at the Justice Center. People shouted “Rittenhouse is to blame!” and “Kyle is a terrorist!” accompanied by drums.
At 8:30 p.m., members of the crowd chased after and shouted a group of people who left the side entrance to the Justice Center, believing they were Portland police to leave the building to change shifts. The bloc group abandoned the pursuit when police entered the SmartPark building.
Subsequently, members of the crowd smashed the windows of Shana Gibbs ’website design office downstairs.
At about 8:45 p.m., members of the crowd dismantled parts of the fence at Chapman Square and used materials collected to block the door to the northeast garage at the court center. This caused a multitude of nine Multnomah County sheriff’s deputies, armed with less deadly mass control weapons, to line up in a tunnel facing the driveway.
A confrontation arose as MPs tried to remove protesters from the entrance and close the gate. Members of the crowd shouted at the MPs present and threw bottles and other items at the riot line.
MPs tried several times to close the gates, but failed because protesters blocked the gates. Sheriff deputies rushed the crowd twice, pushing the black block crowd back. In one case, MPs pushed over a wheelchair protester in a fight.
At 9:05 p.m., a long-range acoustic device from Portland police declared a riot and ordered crowds to disperse west. (Police later cleared the riot, which was declared by the sheriff’s office.) The crowd had shrunk, and about 40 to 50 protesters remained at the intersection of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Madison Street.
Later in the evening, KATU-TV reported that some members of the crowd had attacked the TV news and the guards it hired, damaging the camera. Reporters were not injured.
Hardesty, a longtime police critic, is so far the only member of Portland City Council to have condemned the attack on journalists.
“People have the right to be upset and the right to protest,” he wrote. “Just as protesters have the right to portray the police or anything that happens in public, the press has the right to portray what happens in public. I still learned all the details of what happened last night, but I want to make it clear that attacking or intimidating the press is never acceptable, like what happened to the KATU crew last night.
His response to Rittenhouse’s verdict was more concise: “We have an injustice system in America.”
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