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Thousands in Portland peacefully protest George Floyd’s death

The hours-long demonstration included two crossings of the Burnside Bridge and a large gathering at Pioneer Courthouse Square.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A group of thousands of demonstrators in Portland peacefully protested the killing of George Floyd, the Minnesota black man who died in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, for hours on Monday night.

After they disbanded on their own accord for the night, a clash between police and a separate, smaller group of about 100 protesters took place in the early hours of Tuesday morning around Southwest 4th Avenue and Salmon Street.

The Portland Police Bureau said that clash, which lasted until about 1 a.m., involved protesters throwing projectiles, including glass bottles and rocks, at officers in downtown, prompting police to declare an unlawful assembly. One officer suffered minor injuries when they were hit by an object.

Police said they used crowd control munitions to disperse the small group. Police tried to stop a woman who was driving through the streets handing out items to protesters but she fled, hitting several cars in the process. The woman was arrested after officers deployed spike strips to stop the driver near Southeast 14th Avenue and Franklin Street. One officer was injured during this incident.

More than a dozen protesters were arrested into Tuesday morning and two firearms were seized.

"Thousands of demonstrators participated in an extensive march without engaging in violence or destructive behavior," said Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch. "Thank you for keeping this event peaceful. Your efforts to police the event yourselves created a safer environment for all.

"We will continue to arrest and hold responsible those who engage in acts of violence directed at the police, community members, or who commit other criminal acts," Resch said.

While Monday night may have ended with that clash, the main protest group of the night remained peaceful during its hours-long demonstration.

That group started the night on Portland’s eastside, marched across the bridge into downtown Portland, gathered outside the Multnomah County Justice Center and then packed into Pioneer Courthouse Square before heading back to the eastside where they disbanded near Revolution Hall at around 11:30 p.m.

Lt. Tina Jones with the Portland Police Bureau said the demonstrators were self-policing and it made for a more peaceful atmosphere than previous nights.

The group first met outside Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland and marched across the Burnside Bridge toward downtown. While on the bridge, they laid down in solidarity with George Floyd.

Despite Mayor Ted Wheeler implementing an 8 p.m. curfew for the third night in a row, the demonstrators continued in downtown Portland where they at first gathered outside the Multnomah County Justice Center. There, a police liaison officer spoke with some of the demonstrators at their request. Jones said it was an opportunity for police to hear from demonstrators about the changes that need to be made to combat racial injustice.

The group then packed into Pioneer Courthouse Square for an extended period of time before heading back to the Burnside Bridge and crossing over to Portland's eastside to the point where they began at Revolution Hall. At that point, protesters went their separate ways.

Prior to Monday night's protest, the National Guard was called by Gov. Kate Brown to assist with Portland police. Jones said guard members would play a support role for the bureau's officers.

RELATED: Gov. Brown activates Oregon National Guard, state police

Also prior to the demonstrations, police closed off a large section of downtown Portland, from Southwest 1st Avenue to 5th Avenue, and from Southwest Taylor Street to Jefferson Street. The closure was in effect for both drivers and pedestrians.

Credit: Portland police
Portland police close Southwest 1st Avenue to 5th Avenue and Southwest Taylor Street to Jefferson Street in downtown Portland.

Monday was the fourth night of demonstrations in Portland. Friday was by far the most violent, as rioters vandalized and set fires inside many buildings in downtown, including the Multnomah County Justice Center, which is home to many inmates.

While those previous demonstrations ended with destruction, they were each preceded by hours of peaceful vigils and protests attended by thousands of Portlanders.

RELATED: Protests in Portland: Riots and unrest in Rose City

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