Portland police break up protest with smoke grenades and pepper balls; 19 arrested

Portland police break up protest with smoke grenades and pepper balls; 19 arrested

FILE PHOTO: Police officer removes a barricade erected by demonstrators during a protest against po
FILE PHOTO: A police officer removes a barricade erected by demonstrators during a protest against police violence and racial injustice in Portland, Oregon (Reuters/Terray Sylvester)

PORTLAND, Oregon: Protests flared again in Portland overnight on Monday (Aug 31) as demonstrators clashed with police on the streets of the city which after months of sometimes violent confrontations has become a focal point of the US presidential race.

Police used smoke grenades and pepper balls to control the crowd of protesters. Police acknowledged in a statement that officers "deployed some crowd control munitions" and said 19 people were arrested, mostly on charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with police.

About 200 to 300 people gathered in the downtown area to march to the apartment of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to demand his resignation. They were seen setting fire to wooden benches and plastic trash bins along the march.

Police declared the gathering unlawful and later upgraded it to a riot after protesters set fire in an apartment building. The area was secured to allow firefighters to respond to the situation, police said.

READ: Biden accuses 'toxic' Trump of fanning US unrest

Portland has seen nightly protests since the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in Minneapolis on May 25. Hundreds of demonstrators have been arrested since the protests began.

In recent weeks, tensions between right and left-wing groups in the city have roiled downtown.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump have converged on the city as counter-demonstrators, including one man who was fatally shot on Saturday night. Nobody has been charged in that case as police review poor-quality video of the incident.

State police and officers from neighboring suburbs were sent to Portland on Monday following the shooting.

READ: Trump presses law and order message as protest turns deadly

Trump has seized on civil disturbances in Portland and other cities to blame Democratic leaders as he amplifies his calls for "law and order" ahead of the Nov 3 presidential election.

Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Monday said it was Trump himself who was helping stoke the violence.

Source: Reuters/lk

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