Thousands of protesters flooded downtown Portland overnight, setting fires and launching fireworks as federal agents dispersed the crowd while being hit with large projectiles and targeted with lasers, police said.
More than 1,000 protesters gathered late Thursday outside the Multnomah County Justice Center and a nearby federal courthouse, where they blocked traffic for several hours, Portland police said in a statement early Friday.
By 11 p.m., the group started setting fires inside a fence protecting the courthouse and began trying to dismantle the barrier while hurling projectiles, prompting federal agents to disperse the raucous demonstrators, police said.
Two hours later, a few hundred people returned to the fence at the federal courthouse, where they continued to start fires and launch fireworks toward the building. That led federal agents to once again exit the courthouse and break up the crowd, police said.
At least 100 federal officers descended on the area, launching tear gas and firing impact munitions at the crowd, which had grown to roughly 2,000 people, The Oregonian reports.
Video posted to Twitter showed protesters using leaf blowers to avoid breathing in the tear gas during the chaotic scene. An announcement by the Federal Protective Service declared the protesters to be part of an “unlawful assembly,” according to the clip.
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