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Riot declared in downtown Portland in wake of Kyle Rittenhouse verdict

A crowd gathered outside the Justice Center to protest the verdict. Police said they declared a riot when people began causing destruction around 9 p.m.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Deputies declared a riot in downtown Portland as protestors caused vandalism and broke windows Friday night in the wake of the Kyle Rittenhouse not-guilty verdict.

Rittenhouse, 18, shot and killed two people and wounded a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisc. after a white officer shot and seriously wounded a Black man named Jacob Blake in August 2020. He faced the possibility of life imprisonment but was acquitted of all charges on Friday after arguing that he acted in self-defense.  

Just after 7 p.m., an independent journalist tweeted that roughly 100 people had gathered outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland to protest the Rittenhouse verdict. 

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) said around 8:45 p.m., a couple dozen protester had gathered in front of a vehicle gate to access the detention center inside the Justice Center building. 

The sheriff's office said people started tampering with the gate while it was closed. Then once it was opened, people started to block the gate to prevent it from closing. 

"Deputies met the trespassers on the ramp to prevent entry and began instructing them to exit," MCSO said in a news release. "The crowd, which was described as hostile, launched urine, alcoholic beverages, water bottles and batteries at deputies during the event."

Because of the group's behavior and the risk of them entering the building, authorities said deputies declared a riot around 9 p.m. The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) used a loudspeaker to announce the riot and commanded demonstrators to leave the area. 

People continued to prevent the detention gate from closing. To get them to back up, deputies said they swiftly moved toward the group, then closed the gate and retreated inside.

The Portland Tribune's Zane Sparling shared photos and video of vandalism and protestors facing off with police at the detention center gate.

Around the same time, PPB said people were damaging city property in the area of Southwest Second Avenue and Southwest Madison Street, and a patrol vehicle's rear window was shattered. 

KGW saw broken windows, graffiti that referenced the verdict and at least one fire set in the street outside the Justice Center.

In a news release, PPB said 27-year-old Elly Starling, of Portland, was arrested on an outstanding warrant during the riot. Police also criminally cited 44-year-old Alan Bordeaux, of Portland, for reckless endangering because he allegedly shined a laser at a police aircraft, but he was not near the riot and there's no indication his actions were related to it. 

Portland city commissioners Jo Ann Hardesty and Mingus Mapps reported that a crew with Portland's ABC affiliate KATU News was attacked at some point during the night. 

Hardesty released a statement that said, in part, "I’m still learning the full details of what occurred last night but want to make it clear that attacking or intimidating the press is never acceptable, such as what happened to a KATU crew last night. I'm thankful to see reports the crew were uninjured and want to express my appreciation to those in the media doing their job under difficult and tense circumstances."

Credit: Portland Police Bureau
Graffiti at the Justice Center references Kyle Rittenhouse's not-guilty verdict on Nov. 19.

During the event, PPB said to expect slower response times because the agency had to divert resources in order to respond.

Earlier on Friday, PPB Chief Chuck Lovell said he was making arrangements for the possibility of unrest following the Rittenhouse verdict, including pulling together a team of officers from different precincts and potentially asking officers to come in and work overtime. He said PPB would also check with Oregon State Police, Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and other local partners in case additional help was needed.

"Here in Portland especially it's reasonable to expect there will be some sort of reaction to the verdict and as we've said many times we're supportive of peaceful protest, people exercising first amendment rights," Lovell said. "It's when people engage in criminal activity, violence, destruction, and vandalism that we have issues."