Night of violent protests, riots in Portland, Seattle
By Alfonso Fernandez
Washington, Jul 26 (efe-epa).- The United States experienced another night of disturbances and sometimes violent protests against police brutality on Saturday, especially in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, the unrest spurred by President Donald Trump’s decision to send federal agents to certain cities to try and quell the angry crowds.
In both west coast cities, local authorities warned of riots and the serious risk to public property after violent clashes between demonstrators and police and other security forces.
The Seattle Police Department on Sunday morning on its Twitter account said that officers had made “45 arrests” in connection with the disturbances, which it described as a riot, adding that 21 police officers had been injured by bricks, stones and explosives hurled by protesters, although the majority of them were able to return to duty.
The protests resurged on Saturday after Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, announced that federal agents sent by Trump had arrived in Seattle.
Inslee said that Trump was seeking confrontation and urged protesters to remain “peaceful” at all times.
Seattle, like Portland, over the past two months has been the site of ongoing demonstrations, which in some cases have resulted in clashes between demonstrators and police, after the death of African-American George Floyd in late May at the hands of a white Minneapolis cop while he was already in custody, handcuffed and lying prone upon the ground.
Floyd’s death sparked the biggest wave of protests against racial violence around the country in half a century, and Trump had to expand the security perimeter around the White House with additional fencing and barriers because of the protests in the US capital.
In Portland, demonstrators broke the police cordon around the federal courthouse downtown, thus forcing a response by security personnel.
Portland police chief Chuck Lovell, in a statement, claimed that around the country “people are committing violence, supposedly in support of Portland,” adding “If you want to support Portland then stop the violence, work for peace. … We want to be with you in the community and working on the real relationships that will create change. We want to get back to the critical issues that have been hijacked by people committing crimes under the cover of the crowds.”
Trump announced this past week that he was sending hundreds of federal agents to several cities to contain any violence, most of those cities governed by Democrats, something that has been criticized as a political trick and a maneuver to distract people from what Democrats and many others view as his failed management of the coronavirus pandemic crisis.
“In recent weeks there has been a radical movement to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police department,” Trump said at the White House last Wednesday, blaming the movement for “a shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.”
Accompanied by US Attorney General William Barr as he made his White House announcement, Trump said “This bloodshed must end. This bloodshed will end,” noting that he would be sending “hundreds” of federal agents to the cities in question and specifically citing Chicago, Albuquerque and Kansas City, Missouri, but he added that other cities will be added to the list in the coming weeks.
Local authorities, however, have lambasted Trump’s decision, saying that the arrival and activities of federal agents in their cities only serves to make the situation more tense.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, in commenting on the arrival of federal agents there, said that Trump is a president who is very oriented toward conflict, adding that she does not trust him.
The American Civil Liberties Union in Oregon this past week issued a statement denouncing the irregularities seen in videos showing federal agents in combat uniforms arresting people who were protesting on the street, even if they were not near federal property – which the agents were ostensibly sent to protect – a situation that has raised concerns about the presence of the officers in Portland.
Although the largest protests have been occurring on the US west coast, there have also been demonstrations – and some violent clashes – other parts of the country, including Austin, Texas, and Louisville, Kentucky.