Portland police declare gathering outside court house a riot

In this image from video provided by WBFO, a Buffalo police officer appears to shove a man who walked up to police Thursday, June 4, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. Video from WBFO shows the man appearing to hit his head on the pavement, with blood leaking out as officers walk past to clear Niagara Square. Buffalo police initially said in a statement that a person “was injured when he tripped & fell,” WIVB-TV reported, but Capt. Jeff Rinaldo later told the TV station that an internal affairs investigation was opened. Police Commissioner Byron Lockwood suspended two officers late Thursday, the mayor’s statement said. (Mike Desmond/WBFO via AP)

(Reuters) – Fireworks and fire were being set around the United States federal courthouse building in Portland by protesters late on Wednesday, the police said in a tweet, declaring the gathering a riot.

Anti-racism protests in cities, including Portland, Oregon, have at times erupted into arson and violence, and federal officers sent into the Northwestern city have repeatedly clashed with crowds targeting the federal courthouse there.

“We know there are people in the crowd who do not want violence or vandalism to occur but know there are some people in this crowd who are engaged in criminal activity,” the police said.

“To those outside of The Justice Center, this gathering has been declared a riot.”

The crowd that converged on South West 3rd Avenue outside the courthouse building were asked to leave the area immediately, the police said, or be subject to tear gas, other crowd control agents, citation or arrest.

In Portland, some demonstrators have previously attacked a federal courthouse and others have gathered to speak out against racism and police brutality following the May 25 death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man, died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr came under fire from Democratic lawmakers earlier this month for sending federal officers to disperse the protesters in Portland.

Reporting by Aishwarya Nair in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean

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