Unrest escalates in Portland as US agents use tear gas, flash bangs, pepper balls on protesters

A night that started with a reported shooting and a bag containing loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails amid a peaceful protest - morphed into an intense early morning confrontation between demonstrators and law enforcement in Oregon's largest city.

US agents repeatedly fired what appeared to be tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls early Monday to clear a mass of protesters outside the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland. Some protesters had climbed over the fence surrounding the courthouse, while others shot fireworks, banged on the fence and projected lights on the building.

The federal courthouse has been a place of contention as the city has seen nightly protests for two months since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. President Donald Trump said he sent federal agents to Portland to halt the unrest but state and local officials said they are making the situation worse.

The protest late Sunday started peacefully, with organizers giving speeches and leading chants with the crowd. But things intensified as the night wore on. U.S. agents declared an "unlawful assembly," and just after 1 a.m., confronted protesters on the street and worked to clear the area. Several people were seen being detained, but it was not immediately clear how many may have been arrested.

Law enforcement spent hours working to disperse the crowd. At times, protesters scattered amid flash bangs. Officers deployed more tear gas and less-lethal munitions, and formed a line to push back demonstrators. Many dispersed, but several protesters remained well after 2 a.m.

It's become an all-too-familiar scene in Portland.

Authorities declared a riot early Sunday morning. Protesters had breached a fence surrounding the city's federal courthouse building where U.S. agents have been stationed. Protesters remained in the streets past 2:30 a.m., forming lines across intersections and holding makeshift shields, as police patrolled and closed blocks abutting the area. Portland police say they arrested six people.

Also late Sunday, police said someone pointed out a bag in the same park, where officers found loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails. The shooting and the items in the bag were not related, police said. It's unclear whether either incident was connected to the protest.

Bout of violence hits the globe

Hundreds of protesters in the Philippine capital marched and staged motorcades on Monday against a new anti-terror law and other issues despite police threats of arrests ahead of President Rodrigo Duterte's annual state of the nation speech.

Four suspected protesters in a passenger jeep were taken into police custody in suburban Quezon city, but hundreds gathered at the nearby University of the Philippines campus, said Metropolitan Manila police chief Major General Debold Sinas.

Meanwhile, At least 60 people have been killed and another 60 injured in violence in Sudan's West Darfur region, the United Nations (UN) said in a statement on Sunday.

About 500 militants attacked the village of Masteri in the West Darfur state on Saturday afternoon, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement cited by Xinhua.

The clashes between different tribes in the region occurred earlier Saturday and lasted until late Sunday

(To download our E-paper please click here. The publishers permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

Free Press Journal