PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland protests began in the wake of George Floyd's death in police custody on May 25 and have continued since then. Police first declared one of the demonstrations a riot on May 29. They have subsequently done so 15 more times, most recently on Wednesday night.
On Thursday afternoon the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) sent out a timeline showing a snapshot of how every night has gone since May 29. They also explained the difference between a civil disturbance and a riot.
In late May and early June, protests around the city were largely peaceful. Most nights ended with rallies at the Justice Center, where smaller groups of people would end up throwing projectiles at officers, vandalizing structures, starting fires and sometimes launching fireworks. Still, in that first month police only declared riots on May 29 and 30.
The next riots came on July 2, 3 and 4, when protesters smashed windows and broke the glass doors at the nearby federal courthouse.
In between those riots, and since then, police have declared several gatherings were civil disturbances.
The difference, according to police: A civil disturbance or unlawful assembly is a gathering that constitutes "a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, interference with traffic" or other threat to public safety; a riot is when six or more people "engage in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creating a grave risk of causing public alarm."
Timeline: Protests in Portland
After the riots downtown, protesters started to focus also on police buildings elsewhere in Portland. At the Portland Police Association building on North Lombard, nine demonstrations have been declared civil disturbances and six have become riots. Police have also declared riots at East Precinct and at the Penumbra Kelly Building that houses some PPB and Multnomah County Sheriff's Office facilities.
On Tuesday, in Southeast Portland, a demonstration at the Multnomah Building was declared a riot after demonstrators set fires inside and outside of the building. Wednesday night's riot was at the ICE building on Portland's South Waterfront.
Police have also declared several civil disturbances around PPB's North Precinct, where on June 25 protesters barricaded officers inside and threatened to burn down the building. They also vandalized several nearby businesses owned by people of color.
PPB said when an event becomes unsafe and criminal activity occurs, police give multiple warnings for the crowd to disperse, via a nearby sound truck and on Twitter and Facebook.
"The goal during a dispersal is to increase public safety and stop the dangerous criminal acts," the PPB released said. "These events are inherently dangerous if they rise to the level of a civil disturbance or riot. Our response is based upon the situation we are faced with and the resources available to accomplish the goal."
Police said on Thursday that at least 500 arrests have been made since the protests began. According to the timeline, demonstrators have set fires on 42 nights since the protests began, and at least two nights saw fires set in multiple areas of the city.
People have thrown projectiles at officers, including ball bearings, rocks, frozen water bottles and balloons filled with paint, on 59 of the past 83 nights. On 52 of those nights police have reported graffiti or other vandalism.
So far this month, there have been six nights of relatively peaceful protests and no arrests. But there have already been eight riots, three of which happened in the last week.
Note: Police initially sent out a graphic that showed fewer riots and several other missing icons. They have since issued the new graphic, seen above, and said a layer of data was inadvertently left off of the first version during the transfer to PDF.