Portland police declare riot during protests after Breonna Taylor ruling

(Reuters) – Police in Portland, Oregon declared a riot late on Wednesday after protesters damaged a police building in unrest that followed the grand jury decision in the Breonna Taylor case.

“To those who have gathered outside of Central Precinct on Southwest 2nd Avenue. This gathering has been declared a riot,” the police force said in a tweet. The crowd was told to vacate or face tear gas, other crowd control agents or arrest.

One of the protesters hurled a homemade firebomb or Molotov cocktail towards police officers outside of the precinct, a video shared by Portland police on Twitter showed.

Upper windows appeared to be damaged and part of an awning outside the building was on fire, according to a photograph shared by the police, which said the building had suffered “substantial damage”.

Two police officers were shot and wounded late on Wednesday in Louisville, Kentucky, during protests over a grand jury ruling on the fatal police shooting of Taylor, a Black woman who was killed in her home during a raid in March.

Earlier in the day, the grand jury decided that none of the three white officers involved in the police raid on Taylor’s apartment would be charged for causing her death. One officer was indicted on charges of endangering her neighbors.

(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru)

U.S. Justice Dept. weighs stripping federal funds from cities allowing ‘anarchy’

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department on Monday threatened to revoke federal funding for New York City, Seattle and Portland, Oregon, saying the three liberal cities were allowing anarchy and violence on their streets.

“We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance,” Attorney General William Barr said in a statement.

Spokespeople for the mayors’ offices in all three cities could not be immediately reached for comment.

Many cities across the United States have experienced unrest since the May death of George Floyd. In some cases the protests have escalated into violence and looting.

The federal government has mounted a campaign to disperse the racial justice protests, including by sending federal agents into Portland and Seattle and encouraging federal prosecutors to bring charges.

Last week, the Justice Department urged federal prosecutors to consider sedition charges against protesters who have burned buildings and engaged in other violent activity.

Monday’s threat to revoke federal funds was the government’s latest escalation in its quest to curb the protests.

It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this month issued a memo laying out criteria to consider when reviewing funding for states and cities that are “permitting anarchy, violence, and destruction in American cities.”

The criteria to make the president’s list include things such as whether a city forbids the police from intervening or if it defunds its police force.

In all three cities, the Justice Department said the leadership has rejected efforts to allow federal law enforcement officials to intervene and restore order, among other things.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

U.S. West wildfires kill 16; in Oregon 500,000 flee

By Carlos Barria and Adrees Latif

(Reuters) – Around half a million people in Oregon evacuated as dozens of extreme, wind-driven wildfires scorched U.S. West Coast states on Friday, destroying hundreds of homes and killing at least 16 people, state and local authorities said.

Since Monday 11 people have died from fires in California, while four were killed in Oregon and a 1-year-old boy died in Washington state, police reported.

In Oregon alone the number of people under evacuation orders climbed to some 500,000 – about an eighth of the state’s total population – as Portland suburbs came under threat from the state’s biggest blaze, the state Office of Emergency Management said.

Thousands more were displaced north and south in the neighboring states of Washington and California.

Oregon bore the brunt of nearly 100 major wildfires raging across Western states, with around 3,000 firefighters battling nearly three dozen blazes and officials saying about twice as many people were needed.

Police have opened a criminal arson investigation into at least one Oregon blaze, the Almeda Fire, which started in Ashland near the border with California and incinerated several hundred homes in adjacent communities along Bear Creek, Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara said.

The Oregon blazes tore through multiple communities in the Cascade mountain range as well as areas of coastal rainforest normally spared from wildfires. In eastern Washington state a fire destroyed most of the tiny farming town of Malden.

In central Oregon search-and-rescue teams entered devastated communities in the Santiam Valley to look for missing people.

To the south, a string of small communities along Interstate 5 near Medford were reduced to ashes after embers from a wildfire blew for miles.

Firefighters said unusually hot, dry winds out of the east supercharged blazes, spreading flames from community to community, and then from house to house.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said some 900,000 acres (364,220 hectares) had burned, dwarfing the state’s annual 500,000-acre (202,340-hectare) average over the past decade.

“This will not be a onetime event,” Brown told a Thursday news conference. “We are feeling the acute impacts of climate change”

Climate scientists say global warming has contributed to greater extremes in wet and dry seasons, causing vegetation to flourish then dry out in the U.S. West, leaving more abundant, volatile fuel for fires.

Two of Oregon’s largest fires, burning around 20 miles (32 km) southeast of downtown Portland merged, leading to a major expansion of evacuations in densely populated Clackamas County,

In California, the United States’ most populous state, wildfires have burned over 3.1 million acres (1.25 million hectares) so far this year, marking a record for any year, with six of the top 20 largest wildfires in state history occurring in 2020.

About a third of evacuees were displaced in Butte County alone, north of Sacramento, where the North Complex wildfire has scorched more than 247,000 acres (99,960 hectares) and destroyed over 2,000 homes and structures.

The remains of 10 victims have been found in separate locations of that fire zone, according to a spokesman for the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

Another person died in Siskiyou County in far northern California, state fire authority CalFire reported, providing no further details.

(Reporting by Carlos Barria and Adrees Latif; additional reporting by Andrew Hay, Steve Gorman and Sharon Bernstein; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Portland police arrest 11 after overnight protests

(Reuters) – Police arrested 11 people in Portland as protests continued to take place after 100 days of demonstrations in the Oregon city against racism and police brutality.

Tuesday night, a group began gathering at the site of the Saturday Market and marched in the street to the area of Transit Police Department offices, the police said in a statement.

As the crowd arrived, some stood on the train rails, which interfered with trains getting through the area. Other members of the group stood in the street, blocking vehicular traffic, the police added.

The police said they ordered the demonstrators to disperse. Some adhered while others continued to march around in the streets and threw projectiles such as eggs and water bottles toward officers.

Portland police said they used some munitions to control the crowd but no CS gas, the main component of tear gas.

The police did not mention any injuries but said they made 11 arrests on charges such as interfering with a peace officer, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and attempting escape.

Portland has seen nightly protests for over three months that have at times turned into violent clashes between demonstrators and officers, as well as between right- and left-wing groups.

Demonstrations erupted around the United States following the death in May of George Floyd, a Black man, after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Suspect in Portland shooting killed by police during arrest

By Deborah Bloom

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Police shot and killed an anti-fascist activist on Thursday as they moved in to arrest him for the alleged fatal shooting of a right-wing activist in Portland, Oregon, last weekend, officials said.

Michael Reinoehl, 48, was wanted on a charge of murder when members of a fugitive task force shot him dead in Olympia, Washington after he left an apartment building and got in a car, according to police.

“The suspect produced a firearm, threatening the lives of law enforcement officers,” a U.S. Marshals Service spokesman said in a statement.

Thurston County Sheriff’s Office is responsible for investigating the incident.

“The information that we have at this time is that the suspect was armed,” said Lt. Ray Brady of the Sheriff’s Office.

“There were shots that were fired into the vehicle and the subject fled from the vehicle, at which time there were additional shots that were fired,” he said, adding that the exact circumstances had yet to be confirmed.

Portland Police earlier on Thursday issued a warrant for Reinoehl’s arrest and asked the U.S. Marshals to locate him.

“They lit his ass up,” bystander Jashon Spencer said in an online video. “It sounded like fireworks it was that many shots.”

Reinoehl, who had provided security for Black Lives Matter protests in Portland, was allegedly involved in the shooting of Aaron Danielson on Saturday night, the U.S. Marshal’s Service said.

Danielson, 39, was among a caravan of supporters of President Donald Trump who rode in pickup trucks into downtown Portland and clashed with protesters demonstrating against racial injustice and police brutality.

Portland has seen escalating clashes between right- and left-wing groups in recent weeks following nearly 100 days of protests since George Floyd, a Black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck.

Several people involved in overnight protests in Portland were arrested after they threw projectiles at officials, the police said in a statement on Friday.

Police said they did not use any crowd control munitions or tear gas to control the crowd.

‘NO CHOICE’

Reinoehl died only hours after Vice News broadcast a video in which he appeared to admit he shot Danielson and said he acted in self-defense.

“I had no choice. I mean, I, I had a choice. I could have sat there and watched them kill a friend of mine of color. But I wasn’t going to do that,” he said in the video, adding he feared he would be stabbed.

Reinoehl was previously cited for carrying a loaded gun at a July 5 Portland protest, resisting

arrest and interfering with police, according to The Oregonian newspaper. The allegations were subsequently dropped, the newspaper reported.

In social media posts Reinoehl described himself as a professional snowboarder, a U.S. Army veteran and “100% ANTIFA.”

Antifa is a largely unstructured, far-left movement whose followers broadly aim to confront those they view as authoritarian or racist.

Reinoehl said he was prepared to fight to change the “course of humanity.”

“It will be a war and like all wars there will be casualties,” he said in a June 16 Instagram post.

In July, the Trump administration deployed federal forces to Portland to crack down on the protests.

Trump signed a memo on Wednesday that threatened to cut federal funding to “lawless” cities, including Portland.

On Thursday he had demanded that police arrest Reinoehl.

“Why aren’t the Portland Police ARRESTING the cold blooded killer of Aaron “Jay” Danielson. Do your job, and do it fast. Everybody knows who this thug is. No wonder Portland is going to hell!,” he tweeted.

(Reporting by Deborah Bloom, additional reporting by Ann Maria Shibu and Andrew Hay; Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Gerry Doyle and Mike Collett-White)

Portland police make arrests after protest turns violent

(Reuters) – Several demonstrators were arrested in Portland after they threw rocks and projectiles at police officials, authorities in the U.S. city said.

The police said early on Thursday that demonstrators began a march around 11 p.m. local time, adding that officers closed a street and ordered protesters to not enter the area or risk facing arrest.

“Despite the announcements, the crowd continued to gather on Northeast Emerson Street.” Portland Police said. “Some people in the group threw projectiles such as water bottles and rocks towards officers.”

The police said they made “targeted arrests” without disclosing a figure.

Police said they did not use any crowd control munitions or tear gas.

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Portland, in particular, has seen over three months of daily demonstrations calling for policing and social justice reforms. These have at times turned into clashes between demonstrators and officers, as well as between right- and left-wing groups.

One person was shot dead on Saturday as rival groups clashed.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump deployed federal forces to Portland in July to crack down on the protests.

Trump signed a memo on Wednesday that threatens to cut federal funding to “lawless” cities, including Portland.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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

By Deborah Bloom

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) – Protests flared again in Portland overnight on Monday 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 U.S. 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 200-300 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.

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 U.S. 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.

(Additional reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; writing by Kanishka Singh, editing by Angus MacSwan and Chizu Nomiyama)

Portland mayor urges restraint, renunciation of violence after fatal shooting

By Steve Gorman and Maria Caspani

(Reuters) – Officials in Portland, Oregon, said on Sunday they were braced for an escalation of protest-related violence that has convulsed the city for three months, citing social media posts vowing revenge for a fatal shooting amid weekend street clashes between supporters of President Donald Trump and counter-demonstrators.

“For those of you saying on Twitter this morning that you plan to come to Portland to seek retribution, I’m calling on you to stay away,” Mayor Ted Wheeler told an afternoon news conference, urging individuals of all political persuasions to join in renouncing violence.

He also lashed out at Trump for political rhetoric that he said “encouraged division and stoked violence,” and brushed aside a flurry of weekend Twitter posts from the president criticizing Wheeler and urging the mayor to request help from the federal government to restore order.

“It’s an aggressive stance. It’s not collaborative,” Wheeler said of Trump’s tweets. “I’d appreciate it if the president would support us or stay the hell out of the way.”

Wheeler and Police Chief Chuck Lovell said investigators were still working to establish the sequence of events leading to the fatal shooting late Saturday in downtown Portland, and they provided few new details about the investigation.

Lovell said it remained to be determined whether the shooting was connected to skirmishes that night between a caravan of protesters driving through the city’s downtown district in pickup trucks waving pro-Trump flags and counter-protesters on the streets.

Video on social media showed individuals in the beds of the pickups firing paint-balls and spraying chemical irritants at opposing demonstrators as they rode by, while those on the street hurled objects at the trucks and tried to block them.

Authorities have not identified the shooting victim. But the New York Times reported the man gunned down was wearing a hat with the insignia of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer. On Sunday, the leader of the group, Joey Gibson, appeared to confirm that the victim was a Patriot Prayer member whom he knew.

“We love Jay, and he had such a huge heart. God bless him and the life he lived,” Gibson wrote on social media. “I’m going to wait to make any public statements until after the family can.”

Trump later re-tweeted a photo of a man identified as Jay Bishop and described in that post as “a good American that loved his country and Backed the Blue,” an apparent reference to police. “He was murdered in Portland by ANTIFA.”

Trump wrote, “Rest in Peace Jay!” in his retweet.

UNDER FIRE FROM TWO SIDES

The mayor also came under renewed fire from several left-wing Oregon-based civil rights and community organizations that have been at odds with Wheeler and called for his resignation in an open letter on Sunday.

“Amid 94 days and nights of protests against police brutality, Mayor Wheeler has fundamentally failed in his responsibilities to the residents of Portland,” the letter said.

Police warned against individuals taking to Twitter on the basis of misinformation.

“There are many who are sharing information on social media who are jumping to conclusions that are not based on facts,” Lovell said.

He said the shooting was preceded by a “political rally involving a vehicle caravan that traveled through Portland for several hours.” He said those vehicles had departed from a prescribed protest route that was supposed to funnel them along Interstate 5, outside Portland, to the site of the rally in neighboring Clackamas County.

He said that by the time the shooting took place, the caravan had already cleared that section of downtown, and that there were no police at the spot when it happened.

Protests, which have grown violent at times, have roiled downtown Portland every night for more than three months following the May 25 killing of George Floyd, the Black man who died under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The demonstrators, demanding reforms of police practices they view as racist and abusive, have frequently clashed with law enforcement and on occasion with counter-protesters associated with right-wing militia groups.

The Trump administration in July deployed federal forces to Portland to crack down on the protests, drawing widespread criticism that the presence of federal agents in the city only heightened tensions.

On Sunday’s broadcast of ABC’s “This Week” program, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said, “All options continue to be on the table” to resolve Portland’s unrest.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman and Maria Caspani; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Portland Police declare ‘riot’ after officers attacked

(Reuters) – Portland Police declared a gathering of protesters as a “riot” late on Sunday after saying its officers were attacked with lasers, rocks and bottles.

In a Twitter post, the police asked the gathering in the U.S. city’s North Precinct to disperse, adding that failure to comply with the order could lead to arrests and crowd control agents including tear gas and impact weapons.

Police had also declared a riot just before midnight on Saturday after a group of about 250 people – many of them wearing black and carrying shields, helmets and gas masks – tried to march on a government building that has often been the scene of violence during nearly three months of nightly protests.

Police made 14 arrests in that event.

Demonstrations against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death in May of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

President Donald Trump’s administration in July deployed federal forces to deal with the protests in Portland.

On Friday, he denounced the demonstrations as “crazy” and said cities run by Democrats had descended into chaos. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler is a Democrat.

Portland police said last week that they had declared riots 17 times between May 29 and Aug. 19.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Chopra)

Judge exempts journalists, legal observers from Portland protest dispersal orders

By Kanishka Singh

(Reuters) – A U.S. judge granted a preliminary injunction on Thursday against federal officers, exempting journalists and legal observers from orders to disperse after the officers declare riots at Portland protests.

The 61-page order prohibited federal officers from seizing any “photographic equipment, audio- or video recording equipment, or press passes” from reporters and legal observers.

A lawyer from the U.S. Justice Department had argued that the press does not hold any special right when police declare an unlawful assembly or riot and order crowds to break up.

“If military and law enforcement personnel can engage around the world without attacking journalists, the federal defendants can respect plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights in Portland,” U.S. District Judge Michael Simon said in the order filed in the United States District Court for Oregon.

Protests against racism and police brutality have swept the United States since the death on May 25 of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The protests, including those in Portland, have occasionally erupted in arson and violence, and federal officers sent into the northwestern city have repeatedly clashed with crowds targeting its federal courthouse.

Portland Police had declared a riot for a second successive night on Wednesday and said they had fired crowd control munitions and tear gas to break up a gathering of about 200 people who threw rocks, lit fires and vandalized a U.S. immigration agency building.

Thursday’s order came in a class-action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Oregon, which called it “a crucial victory” for civil liberties and press freedom.

Separately on Thursday, Portland Police issued a timeline of protests, showcasing they had declared riots 17 times between May 29 and Aug. 19.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)