Violent clashes erupted between right-wing and Black Lives Matter demonstrators in Portland, Oregon, with federal police clearing a plaza near a federal building as they tried to quell the unrest.
Hundreds of supporters from the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement converged near the Multnomah County Justice Center, the site of several protests in the city against police brutality following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis.
—Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) August 23, 2020
They were gathering to demonstrate against a rally held Saturday by the right-wing Back the Blue movement, reported The Oregonian.
Footage shows protesters armed with batons, wearing helmets and carrying shields. Some shields carried by right-wing protesters were emblazoned with slogans of the far-right QAnon movement.
—Robert Evans (The Only Robert Evans) (@IwriteOK) August 22, 2020
According to the Oregonian, among the protesters at the Back the Blue demonstration were members of the far-right Proud Boys street militia, which has been classed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Violence soon broke out between the rival groups, with footage from the scene showing demonstrators hurling projectiles and missiles. Other footage shows pepper spray being used in fights between demonstrators, and one protester appeared to pull out a gun and threaten BLM protesters.
Police are facing criticism for seemingly refusing to intervene and stop the violence. In a statement, police said only 30 officers were policing the demonstration, meaning they could not effectively police the event.
"In this case, there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd," police said.
Critics have contrasted the police's refusal to intervene Saturday, with the heavy-handed tactics used to police some BLM demonstrations in the city.
—Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) August 23, 2020
Department of Homeland Security federal agents eventually cleared the plaza where the demonstrations took place.