New Year’s Eve ‘celebration’ in Portland turns into declared riot – fireworks shot at police, courthouse

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PORTLAND, OR – New Year’s Eve celebrations in Portland reportedly “devolved” into riotous acts, with fireworks and other incendiary devices being lodged against the federal courthouse and law enforcement within the city. 

According to reports from Portland Police, firebombs were said to have been hurled at police officers and fireworks were aimed at the courthouse, which has been the target of rioters for most of 2020:

“A gathering in downtown Portland has devolved into a riot. Participants have thrown multiple firebombs at officers and launched commercial grade fireworks at the Federal Courthouse and Justice Center.”

The firebombs described by the PPB were later clarified to have resembled Molotov cocktails, in which two of them were reportedly thrown by members within the amassed crowd. 

In an announcement made on Twitter, the PPB declared the gathering to be a riot and instructed all those in the area to clear out: 

“The violence from the crowd has prompted a declaration of a riot. All persons in the area of Southwest 3rd Avenue around Southwest Main Street are ordered to leave to the south and west immediately.”

“If you do not leave you are subject to arrest, citation, and/or the use of force, including but not limited to impact weapons and tear gas.”

Some reports from the riot allege that people were also attempting to utilize burglary tools to gain unauthorized entrance into the Justice Center, but those attempts were reportedly unsuccessful. 

Items such as large rocks, bricks and frozen water bottles were also reportedly hurled at PPB officers tending to the area.

Law enforcement officers who were not affiliated with the PPB were said to have also been hit with paint-filled balloons that seemed to have been laced with a caustic substance due to burn injuries sustained. 

Fires were also set throughout various areas, mainly in areas among the street-level and not to any reported structures. 

Officers did wind up using some impact munitions and and inert smoke to clear the area. Some businesses were also damaged in the riot as well, but there’s currently no detailed report on to what extent that was at this time. 

Police say that the crowd had eventually dispersed by roughly 2:00 a.m. on January 1st. Multiple arrests were reportedly made as well, but officials have yet to detail the exact number and the identities of those arrested as of this time. 

We at Law Enforcement Today will provide further updates on this matter once details become available. 

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This riot occurred in a time where just days earlier in Portland, local businesses were reported to have been trying to enlist the likes of private security to combat and deter the rising crime in the area affecting their respective businesses. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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PORTLAND, OR- Several businesses in downtown Portland have stated that crime is on the rise and many business owners have decided to now take things into their own hands.

According to reports, places like Fuse and Candy have watched break-ins continue to repeatedly happen along with stolen cameras and damaged property. As crime continues to rise, business owners have come together and hired private security to patrol the area.

After attempting to use cameras and motion sensors to deter crime, business owners have decided to take the security of their stores one step further. Azim Patel said:

“A lot more recently, since we’ve been closed. Most of the alley businesses are closed as well. So, what you have is a lot of spaces that are essentially dead.”

At the club, Candy, owner Brad McCray said that he has had barriers and tents stolen out front on multiple occasions while trying to keep business doors open. He said:

“We have an outdoor area we’ve been trying to get established. It took us a long time to get approved and when it finally was approved, we put out some tents. And on the second day the tents were out, they were destroyed.”

Patel, McCray, and other downtown business owners partnered together to hire private security. Even though funds are currently limited, McCray said it is a worthwhile expense to protect the area. He said:

“Financially, mathematically, it doesn’t even make sense for any of us to be open. We probably all should have abandoned our businesses. I’m from this area, I don’t want to do that.”

The owners of these downtown businesses said that they are not feeling any support from city leaders. In the beginning of December, many downtown businesses band together and formed the Rose City Downtown Collective in an attempt to bring life back to their downtown area.

Most of downtown Portland Portland has boarded up windows, graffiti, and trash on pretty much every block. Vanessa Sturgeon, CEO of TMT Development said in a statement:

“We’re really struggling and it’s time to get the graffiti cleaned up. It’s time to get the trash removed and it’s time to find a really compassionate, long term solution to the homeless crisis we have in Portland.”

Sturgeon is also the spokesperson for the Rose City Downtown Collective, a group of hundreds of businesses wanting to get the city’s attention to clean up downtown Portland and put an end to the violence and riots that have plagued the city since early summer.

Sturgeon also cited Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt’s policy to preemptively decline prosecution of people arrested at protests for charges that did not include deliberate property damage, theft, or force against another person.

She feels that his decision to not prosecute those who commit crimes has harmed Portland’s reputation. She said in a statement:

“It’s permeating the reputation on a national level and it’s incredibly unfortunate because Portland really is a beautiful community and a really nice place to live.”

A spokesman for Schmidt claimed that the DA has and continues to prosecute cases stemming from protests where suspects are accused of property damage or physically harming someone. The spokesman cited that Schmidt’s office has prosecuted 51 cases related to property damage during protests and that it is reviewing another 35 cases for potential prosecution.

The group said that the financial help that businesses have received has not been enough to sustain them and whether a new federal stimulus package gets approved before President Trump leaves office in January is up in the air.

The high priorities for the group’s detailed action plan that will be submitted to the city council and other elected officials are to ask for prosecution for criminal destruction, find compassionate but effective care for their streets and the houseless population, create a pathway for non-violent demonstration, and make downtown a safe and secure place for businesses and residents. 

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