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Police declare riot in North Portland after union headquarters briefly set on fire

Videos on social media also show federal officers used tear gas on demonstrators outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A protest in North Portland was declared a riot after police say protesters broke into the bureau's union headquarters building and set it on fire. The fire was put out minutes later, police said. 

The fire at the Portland Police Association building, on North Lombard Street, happened around 10:50 p.m. Police said demonstrators also moved dumpsters onto the street and lit them on fire. Social media reports show police rushed protesters to clear out the crowd.

The demonstration was one of two gatherings Saturday night involving hundreds of people calling for police reform and an end to systemic racism. The other was outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland. The area has been the site of many clashes between protesters and law enforcement over the past seven weeks.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon on Saturday tweeted a photo showing new fencing around the Justice Center. The agency said the purpose of the fence was to de-escalate tension between protesters and federal law enforcement officers who currently occupy the city. 

Protesters responded by dismantling part of the fence. Portland police said protesters used the removed fencing to barricade doors at the Justice Center.

Videos on social media show federal officers used tear gas and other crowd control munitions to disperse the protesters outside the Justice Center.

In another element of Saturday night's demonstrations, Portland police said the Federal Protective Service would no longer work in the bureau's incident command center.

The move came after confrontations between police and protesters Friday night. Federal officers were the first to use force and tear gas to disperse protesters, but later in the night Portland police also joined the effort to disperse demonstrators, although the bureau said it did not use tear gas. Portland police said officers intervened because protesters were throwing projectiles, setting off "commercial grade fireworks" and using fencing to block the doors of the Multnomah County Justice Center. Seven people were arrested. One officer suffered minor injuries, police said.

Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty released a statement Saturday criticizing Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland Police Bureau for its actions, which came after a candlelight vigil she put together outside the Justice Center in support of protesters' rights to free speech and assembly.

RELATED: Hardesty to Wheeler: 'If you can't control the police, give me the Portland Police Bureau'

The presence of federal officers in Portland has drawn the ire of city, state and congressional leaders. Mayor Ted Wheeler called the federal occupancy an attack on our democracy. Gov. Kate Brown said President Trump's administration is using Portland as a photo opportunity focused on "scoring political points." Democratic Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden said federal officers are only escalating tensions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Earl Blumenauer released a joint statement Saturday, saying "the House is committed to moving swiftly to curb these egregious abuses of power immediately.”  

RELATED: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Blumenauer release joint statement on federal violence against protesters

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf visited Portland this week and called protesters "extremists" and "violent anarchists" on Twitter, saying, "we will prevail."

Various events took place across Portland on Saturday in support of protesters, the Black Lives Matter movement and efforts to defund and abolish police.

A "Wall of Moms" marched to the Justice Center to create a human barrier between Portland police and protesters.

There was also a Black Lives Matter occupy event at Lents Park in Southeast Portland. A Black Lives Matter March for Justice was planned from Holladay Park in Northeast Portland to Pioneer Courthouse in downtown.

There were a couple events at Peninsula Park in North Portland, including an Abolish the Police rally, and a gathering of artists to celebrate and elevate the work of Black, Indigenous and people of color.

President Donald Trump also tweeted about the events of Saturday night's protests, saying that the protesters in Portland are "the real deal" 

RELATED: Oregon AG files lawsuit against federal agencies for violating Oregonians' civil rights

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