[Writer’s note: I was in downtown Portland Friday night when the events occurred, just five blocks away, and there was no indication of any violence outside of the immediate incident site]
Law enforcement in Portland Friday night declared a riot as about 200 demonstrators protested the acquittal of a teen who killed two people and injured another in Wisconsin.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said the protesters were breaking windows, throwing objects at police, and talking about burning down a local government building in downtown Portland, KOIN TV reported, but the crowd had dispersed by about 11 p.m (PST). Several people were given citations, the Portland Police Bureau said, but only one person who had an outstanding warrant from another matter was arrested.
The protesters gathered following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse killed two people and injured another during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year. By about 8:50 p.m., about 200 protesters had gathered in downtown Portland and blocked streets. By 9 p.m., windows were broken and doors of city facilities were damaged.
Cops retreat in the face of black block in Portland Or pic.twitter.com/lcdBnO0q4A
— Grace Morgan (@gravemorgan) November 20, 2021
The police tweeted: “A crowd has gathered near SE 2nd Avenue and SE Madison Street and participants have begun breaking windows and damaging doors of city facilities in the area. People are throwing objects at police officers in the area.”
— Portland Police (@PortlandPolice) November 20, 2021
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office designated the event a riot and said in a news release early Saturday morning that some demonstrators had thrown urine, water bottles, and batteries at deputies.
The destructive crowd has dissipated and officers are returning to their precincts to resume their duties. At least one arrest has been made. A press release is forthcoming. This will be the final message from this account for tonight.
— PPB Event Messages (@PPBAlerts) November 20, 2021
Protests weren’t exclusive to Portland; other cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago all reported similar responses to the Rittenhouse verdict. About 1,000 people marched through downtown Chicago Saturday afternoon, organized by Black Lives Matter Chicago and other local activist groups. According to the Chicago Tribune, protesters held signs that stated, “STOP WHITE SUPREMACY” and “WE’RE HITTING THE STREETS TO PROTEST THIS RACIST INJUSTICE SYSTEM” with a picture of Rittenhouse carrying a weapon.
Peaceful protest of the Rittenhouse verdict in Brooklyn tonight. pic.twitter.com/Awn3jDOjK8
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) November 20, 2021