The Oregon National Guard was activated in Portland, Oregon, Wednesday night as protests turned to riots accompanied by violence, according to law enforcement officials.
Law enforcement officials declared the demonstration a riot in response to “widespread violence” and destruction of property, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. Democratic Oregon Governor Kate Brown called in the National Guard to assist local law enforcement for the first time.
“People began throwing projectiles, including a firework, at police officers,” the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said. “Individuals broke out dozens of windows to businesses and damaged other private property downtown.”
Unified Command on National Guard activation: Widespread violence is occurring in Downtown Portland. In the interest of public safety, Governor Kate Brown, under advice of the Unified Command, has activated the use of the Oregon National Guard to assist local law enforcement… pic.twitter.com/kEnxcXipw1
— Multnomah Co Sheriff (@MultCoSO) November 5, 2020
William Beecher, 23, was identified as the person who allegedly threw a firework at officers, officials said. Beecher was allegedly carrying a loaded rifle, several loaded magazines, a knife, other fireworks, and a ballistics vest when he was arrested, police said.
“In the interest of public safety, Governor Kate Brown, under advice of the Unified Command, activated the use of the Oregon National Guard to assist officers in responding to acts of violence, and to maintain public order and ensure community safety,” according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Law enforcement officials swept through downtown Portland to manage the crowd and make space for business owners who were boarding up properties, officials said. After around an hour and a half of patrols, officials declared that the demonstration activity was no longer a riot.
Officers told protesters participating in a march at around 10 p.m. that they were not permitted to return to the area where widespread property damage occurred earlier in the night, officials said. Police announced that individuals “who engage in criminal acts are subject to arrest and/or the use of force including munitions and CS gas.”
“This announcement was met with aggressive actions by participants. Individuals again threw glass bottles at police and blocked vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Police announced to the crowd that the assembly was unlawful and needed to disperse,” according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Protesters continued marching through downtown where there were some incidents of property damage, officials said. Police disengaged with the crowd “to give people the opportunity to return to lawful behavior,” though they continued to march and destroy some property for a couple of hours.
The protesters had mostly dispersed around 1:30 a.m., officials said. At least 10 people were arrested, and officials recovered firearms, ammunition, fireworks, body armor, and gas masks during arrests.