Law & the Courts

Police Declare Riot in Downtown Portland, National Guard Activated

A demonstrator holds up hands in front of police during a protest the day after Election Day in Portland, Ore., November 4, 2020. (Goran Tomasevic/Reuters)

Police declared a riot in downtown Portland Wednesday night as protests turned violent and votes in the general election continued to be counted a day after Election Day.

Governor Kate Brown deployed the Oregon National Guard, which had been placed on standby before the election to respond in the event demonstrations devolved into violence. Guard members were deployed to assist local authorities in “the interest of public safety,” the governor said.

Demonstrators vandalized businesses and threw objects at police, including one man who was arrested with a rifle, several magazines of ammunition, commercial grade fireworks, a knife, and spray-paint cans, according to police.

At least eleven individuals were arrested in connection to the riots Wednesday night.

The governor on Wednesday also extended an executive order establishing a unified police command of Oregon State Police and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to handle potential violence in the wake of the election. The order was originally set to expire Wednesday evening, but Brown extended the joint command to continue through Friday.

Any “political violence, intimidation and property destruction will not be tolerated,” the Democratic governor warned.

Two groups of protesters, one a “Defend Democracy” march that passed the Multnomah County elections office, and another protest group that was seen smashing windows of businesses met up in the evening.

Downtown Portland has been wracked with violent demonstrations nearly every night since the police custody death of George Floyd in May in Minneapolis. President Trump has demanded city leaders crack down on the violence as part of his campaign for law and order.

Two days after the presidential election, the results remain unknown as several states remain too close to call. Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina, Georgia, and Pennsylvania have not yet been called for either Trump or former vice president Joe Biden. Biden currently has a healthy edge in electoral votes over Trump, who has demanded a recount in Wisconsin, which was called for Biden.

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