PORTLAND, ORE. – Law enforcement in Portland Friday night declared a riot as about 200 people protested against the acquittal of a teenager who killed two people and injured another in Wisconsin.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said protesters broke windows, threw objects at police and talked about burning down a local government building in downtown Portland, KOIN TV reported, but the crowd dispersed around 11pm. Several people have been cited, the Portland Police Office said, but only one person with a backlog from another matter has been arrested.
Protesters gather after Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted. Rittenhouse killed two people and injured another during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year.
Protests were held in several other US cities across the country over the ruling, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.
About 1,000 people marched through downtown Chicago on Saturday afternoon, organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago and other local activist groups. According to the Chicago Tribune, protesters held signs that read “STOP WHITE STAYING” and “WE ARE TREATING ROADS TO TEST THIS RACIST ADJUSTABLE SYSTEM” with an image of Rittenhouse carrying a dance gas.
Tanya Watkins, executive director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Emancipation, spoke at a rally in Federal Plaza ahead of the march, according to the Tribune.
“While I’m not surprised by yesterday’s ruling, I’m tired. I’m disappointed. I’m angry. I’ve lost all faith in this justice system,” said Watkins, who is black.
In North Carolina, dozens of people gathered Saturday near the state Capitol to protest the ruling, Raleigh News & Observer reported. Speakers led a crowd of about 75 chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “Abolish the police!” Police officers on motorbikes accompanied the protesters and blocked traffic for them as they marched down a street past bars and restaurants.
Following the murder of George Floyd last year by police in Minneapolis, violent protests are taking place in Portland. Some activists complained that the police were too heavy-handed in their response. Shortly after Rittenhouse’s sentencing, Portland Police Department Chief Chuck Lovell said officers were working on a plan for Friday night and the weekend.
By around 8:50 p.m., about 200 protesters had gathered in downtown Portland and cordoned off the streets. By 9 p.m., windows were broken and the doors of city facilities were damaged.
Police tweeted: “A mob had gathered near SE 2nd Avenue and SE Madison Street and participants began breaking windows and damaging the doors of city facilities in the area. People are throwing objects at police officers in the area.”
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office designated the event as a riot, and said in an early Saturday morning news release that some protesters threw urine, water bottles and batteries at the delegates.