Riot Declared in Portland Protest for George Floyd

The city where protests raged last year didn’t forget the anniversary of George Floyd’s death.

Police in Portland, Oregon stand near a burning dumpster on May 26. (Karina Brown/Courthouse News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) — Portland turned out in small but passionate numbers at multiple rallies and marches Tuesday that marked the one year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer.

Despite the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, and the modest reduction last spring in the budget of the Portland Police Bureau, speakers at one rally and several protesters said they won’t be satisfied until police violence is a thing of the past. 

“This is a marathon, not a sprint,” Kent Ford, a founding member of the Black Panther Party of Portland, told Courthouse News.

At Revolution Hall, launching site of rallies that drew crowds of around 10,000 people last summer, a small rally warmed up with a dance party, with one young boy’s animated dancing to the protest staple “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, attracting a circle of admirers grooving along. 

Rain poured in Portland all day, stopping just before the start of the rally.

About 100 protesters marched, led by a converted neon yellow fire truck emblazoned with the words “World on Fire Department.”

At the Burnside Bridge, they halted movement through the exact center of the city. On Portland’s main artery, which separates north from south and connects east to west, the group sat in silence for nine minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time that Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd begged for his life.

Later in the night, a different crowd gathered in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center, the scene of many protests last summer and right next door to the federal courthouse, where federal agents in military fatigues regularly teargassed peaceful crowds.

There, about 200 protesters gathered mostly in black bloc — wearing all black to obscure their identities. Protesters wheeled a dumpster into the street and set its contents on fire, drawing police out. Fireworks went off but police eventually retreated in a cloud of their own smoke grenades.

At one point, some protesters broke windows at Portland City Hall by hurling e-scooters at them and windows were smashed at other businesses including banks and several Starbucks locations.

Police ultimately declared a riot.

Xavier Warner, who goes by the name Princess, helped found the queer youth social justice collective Black Unity. Warner, who was at both of the protests, said continuing protests will help make a better world for the youth of the future.

“We can’t rely on getting justice just because protest is a trend,” Warner told Courthouse News. “We have to keep demanding justice until change happens. Because we’re doing this for a greater purpose.”

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