Law & the Courts

Portland Rioters Smash Windows, Set Fires on Anniversary of George Floyd’s Death

A protester gestures near a trash dumpster fire shortly before a riot was declared in downtown Portland, Oregon, December 31, 2020. (Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Reuters)

Portland police declared a riot on Tuesday night amid a demonstration marking the anniversary of the death of George Floyd.

Roughly 200 people gathered at the Multnomah County Justice Center, and some lit a dumpster on fire while people in the crowd chanted “burn the building down.” Others began scrawling graffiti on the courthouse and throwing mortar-style fireworks, glass bottles, and metal spikes at police.

Police declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, at which point the crowd moved on to Portland City Hall and began smashing windows. Police then declared a riot and ordered the crowd to disperse, although many people continued through downtown Portland and smashed windows of various businesses.

“Slowly, as the number of people in the crowd became smaller and smaller, they began to spread out, fight among themselves and light occasional trash can fires,” the Portland Police Bureau said on Wednesday. “People within the crowd were overheard saying the night was a success.”

Portland was the site of continuous nightly riots throughout summer 2020, following Floyd’s death in May of that year. Mobs targeted the Justice Center, a federal courthouse, as well as the home of Mayor Ted Wheeler.

While riots died down during the winter, rioters set fire to the federal courthouse in March of this year one day after protective fencing was removed from the site.

Floyd’s death during his arrest by former officer Derek Chauvin sparked massive riots across the country as well as protests against police brutality. Chauvin was convicted of murder in a trial in April, and was captured on video pinning Floyd to the ground while Floyd lost consciousness and later died.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.


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