PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s police chief has denounced protesters who broke windows and set a fire to a business in the upscale apartment building where Mayor Ted Wheeler lives, labeling the events an escalation in the street violence that Oregon’s largest city has endured for months.
The demonstration began late Monday and stretched into the predawn hours of Tuesday, targeting Wheeler, who is also police commissioner and has been criticized for heading up a police force that has repeatedly used tear gas against the demonstrators.
The fire was set with a bundle of newspapers in a store housed on the ground floor of Wheeler’s building. There were no reports of major damage or injuries.
Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the demonstrators also wound up targeting other people who live in Wheeler’s building and have had nothing to do with the protests. Previously, the demonstrators have almost always clashed with police outside symbols of authority — police buildings and courthouses.
“The families that live inside have done absolutely nothing to provoke a threat to their lives. As I’ve stated repeatedly, the nightly violence is coming at increased cost,” he said. “This is impacting the safety of our entire city and urgent action is needed.”
Portland has endured nearly 100 days of nightly unrest following the police killing of George Floyd, including two weeks in July when thousands of protesters clashed with U.S. agents sent to protect the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Local police have arrested hundreds of people since Floyd’s death.
A supporter of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer was killed Saturday amid clashes between dueling groups of protesters. A caravan of Trump supporters, estimated at about 600 cars, encountered Black Lives Matter protesters as they drove through the downtown and street fights broke out.
Police have not announced an arrest in the slaying of Aaron J. Danielson, 39, of Portland, and have disclosed no details about what led up the shooting.
Wheeler said on his Facebook page that the vandalism hurt a minority-owned business.
“Arson and terrorizing families with children does nothing except steal, and distract from, the important message of the racial justice movement. Organizations in the community who encouraged or condoned these actions are complicit,” he said.
Wheeler added: “The community must rise up and say ‘enough is enough’ and hold all of us accountable. We cannot truly move on together and make the positive changes we want to see until this violence is stopped. All violence.”