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Officers respond to ‘direct action’ event in downtown Portland; suspect who dismantled crosswalk signals sought

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Police are looking for a person they say dismantled crosswalk signals during a demonstration in downtown Portland Wednesday night.

The Portland Police Bureau said it learned that a “direct action” event was planned to begin in Chapman Square Park on Wednesday. The bureau said information posted on social media suggested that anarchist groups intended to gather at the park.

These “direct action” events, police said, “have historically included deliberate destruction of public and private property, threatening or intimidating behavior and violence, such as throwing dangerous objects, starting fires and weapons. Similarly, individuals at advertised events have engaged in arson and riots.”

Addressing those who planned to attend the event Wednesday, PPB said the following in a news release: “We ask for those who want to demonstrate to do so peacefully–breaking windows, lighting fires and assaulting others does not further any racial justice movement.”

According to police, a group of about 20 demonstrators gathered near the Justice Center at 8:30 p.m. and a fire was lit in the roadway shortly after. Portland Fire & Rescue monitored the fire. A burn ban was in effect in Multnomah County Wednesday.

About 50 minutes later, the group had doubled in size and then moved to the front of the Justice Center, blocking traffic. Police said some began spray painting the walls of the building and pointed red lasers at the building’s camera.

Around 10 p.m., the crowd marched through the downtown streets, going several blocks then looped back. During the march, PPB said two crosswalk signals were damaged at Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest Madison Street.

No other property damage was reported during the demonstration.

No arrests have been made, but police are searching for the suspect who dismantled the crosswalk signals.

By 10:30 p.m., most of the group had left the area.

Police said “Community members who wish to demonstrate are always encouraged to do so lawfully. The Portland Police Bureau is dedicated to supporting people’s right to speak and assemble.”

Wednesday’s “direct action” event came one day after an unlawful assembly in downtown, in which a PPB sergeant was punched in the head and knocked to the ground.

Protest activity was expected in Portland Tuesday after Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, was found guilty of murder and manslaughter when he killed George Floyd nearly a year ago.

After the verdict was announced, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler declared a state of emergency for the city, which lasts through noon Thursday.

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