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Police declare unlawful assembly during third night of Portland protests; 12 arrested

Portland police said demonstrators were setting off numerous fireworks and "aerial mortars" at officers.

PORTLAND, Ore. — After hours of peaceful protesting, tensions increased and police declared a gathering of thousands of demonstrators outside the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland a civil disturbance and an unlawful assembly.

Police said 14 people were arrested during the third straight night of protests over the death of George Floyd and police violence against African Americans.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler held a news conference on Monday morning, announcing that he was extending the curfew in place since Friday

At around 11:30 p.m. Sunday night, Portland police said demonstrators were setting off fireworks and "aerial mortars" at officers. 

Officers had used flash bangs and tear gas to disperse protesters, which splintered into smaller groups throughout downtown. There was vandalism and reports of people setting fires in the early morning hours of Monday.

Credit: KGW
Vandalism in downtown Portland in the early morning of June 1, 2020. This came after an hours-long peaceful demonstration in response to George Floyd's death that ended up becoming an unlawful assembly

The large crowd initially gathered at Laurelhurst Park at 6 p.m. and at first marched to a former police precinct building on Southeast 47th Avenue and Burnside. The group then peacefully marched several miles westbound, crossed the Burnside Bridge and entered downtown Portland. They reached the justice center around 9:30 p.m.

As the crowd marched to downtown, police announced over loud speakers that they would protect the demonstrators' First Amendment rights if they remained peaceful.

"The actions of this group will set the tone for this evening. Do not destroy your city," police announced.

The tensions between police and the group of protesters appeared to escalate outside the justice center as the night went on. At around 10:45 p.m., Portland police caused confusion by saying demonstrators had broken in inside the federal courthouse, which is next to the justice center. However, minutes later, police said no demonstrators entered the courthouse. 

Police then said projectiles were being thrown at officers. The unlawful assembly was declared a short time later.

All of this occurred after the 8 p.m. curfew that was put into place for the second straight night due to destructive riots that took place Friday and Saturday.

Earlier Sunday night at the justice center, police declared a separate demonstration with a smaller, but still formidable, group of protesters an unlawful assembly and dispersed the group.

Portland police said protesters were throwing water bottles at officers. 

In an attempt to prevent crowds from gathering in downtown, Portland police asked the Oregon Department of Transportation to close freeway off-ramps leading into downtown Portland, including off-ramps from US-26, I-5, I-84 and I-405.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler explained during an appearance on MSNBC why the city asked for the ramps to be closed.

"Tonight we took an usual step of closing off on-ramps into the city of Portland because we heard anecdotally that some of the demonstrators were coming from outside of our city," Wheeler said.

Earlier Sunday afternoon, a passerby captured an inspiring moment on camera, as Portland police officers took a knee with protesters in downtown Portland.

WATCH: Raw video | Portland police officers kneel with protesters

A few protesters met with Portland police Chief Jami Resch during Sunday night's demonstration. Michael Richardson explained how racial injustice is not just isolated to George Floyd in Minneapolis, but has been a widespread problem for generations across the United States.

In the first two days of protests in Portland, at least 70 people were arrested. Late-night protesters shattered storefront windows and looted businesses. On Friday night, the Multnomah County Justice Center was set ablaze. At least two officers were injured.

On Sunday morning, Wheeler said the protests had been "co-opted by rioters and looters." He said the rioters' actions no longer feel like sincere mourning for Floyd. At the same press conference, Resch called the rioters a "group of selfish individuals."

RELATED: Raw video: Portland police officers kneel with protesters

RELATED: Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler extends curfew, will begin at 8 p.m. Sunday

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