Rioters left a trail of shattered windows in downtown Portland on Wednesday night as left-wing protesters, amid a disputed presidential election, returned to a habit of property destruction.
A group of anti-fascist organizers led several hundred people along the North Park Blocks to protest President Donald Trump's legal maneuverings to stop vote counting in battleground states. But a handful of people clad head-to-toe in black split off from the main crowd and began shattering shop windows.
Among the small businesses hit: the downtown store of clothing brand Wildfang, which sells shirts reading "Wild Feminist" and androgynous jumpsuits. The store has branded itself as feminist and LBGTQ-friendly, advocating for reproductive rights and immigration.
The seemingly indiscriminate vandalism reflected frustrations among some of the city's most strident activists, who appear as irked with mainstream Democrats as with the White House.
The anti-fascist group Popular Mobilization, or Pop Mob, organized tonight's march to protest what it described as attempts by Trump "to stage a coup in the face of a projected Biden win. But this ain't over—no matter how this goes, Portland's coming out to show these rotting institutions we're fed the fuck up."
But some protesters chanted, "Fuck Trump and Biden!" as they burned an American flag. The reelection of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who oversees a police force that has aggressively confronted protesters all summer, added to the tensions.
The window smashing and police response began around 7 pm, much earlier than the usual dead-of-night shows of force. A unified command of law enforcement arranged by Gov. Kate Brown—with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and Oregon State Police in charge—swiftly made several arrests.
Shortly after police warned demonstrators not to vandalize buildings, the unified command of riot cops declared the demonstration a riot, showing their force by pushing demonstrators through downtown. Some protesters threw bottles at the officers marching toward them.
Several demonstrators were arrested, but police on the street declined to answer why.
"Quit your job!" demonstrators yelled at police as they arrested an individual. Police responded by shouting, "Move back!"
A business owner on Southwest Harvey Milk Street started boarding up a smashed window as police continued to push demonstrators away.
"Get out of the street or you're getting arrested," a Portland police officer told an individual who was one step from the sidewalk.