- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 22, 2020

Heeding the advice of critics, Portland police say they repeatedly tried to deescalate with protesters Friday night. It didn’t work.

As many as 200 demonstrators rampaged near a police station in the Oregon city, pelting a protective line of unoccupied police vehicles with golf balls, softball-sized rocks, metal railroad spikes, paint-filled plastic eggs and balloons filled with feces.

A torn-up street sign was also used to smash cars, with tires slashed and windows broken, police said.

Officers said they didn’t intervene at that point because it was only property, and they figured allowing the rampaging to run its course might deescalate the situation.

But after some protesters burst through the police car barricade officers said they used smoke grenades and made some arrests — then retreated, hoping things would calm down.

“Officers in the sound truck used their loudspeaker to warn the group to back off the city property, keep the demonstration peaceful, and the ask crowd to police itself. However, individuals within the group continued to increase their attacks in an attempt to goad the officers into responding,” police said.

Those tactics included using lacrosse sticks to fire objects from afar at officers.

Some of the rioters had “PRESS” markings on their clothing, but still took part, police said. One purported reporter deflated a police vehicle’s tires.

After the protesters lit a fire in the middle of a street and then pelted police who tried to disperse the crowd, a riot was declared and police moved in to disperse the gathered demonstrators.

Police said a protester in one vehicle tried to run over officers, while others used green lasers to try to target a police helicopter.

One protester seen throwing rocks was shot with a sponge-tipped bullet. Police said they then treated him for his injury, and arrested him.

All told, nine people were arrested on charges ranging from trespassing to assaulting police.

Racial justice protests are now almost three months old and Portland remains the most violent, with nightly clashes in different parts of the city.

Protest supporters have blamed police for inciting the crowds and suggested they should retreat and protests would take place peacefully.

Law enforcement advocates say protesters are intent on sparking clashes and doing damage to property. Windows have been broken and fires started in multiple public office buildings across Portland over the months.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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