Violent Clashes Worsen Across The US as Cops Fire Tear Gas at Protesters

Published July 28th, 2020 - 10:05 GMT
Demonstrators attend a Black Lives Matter protest in Perth, Australia, June 13, 2020. (AFP Photo)
Demonstrators attend a Black Lives Matter protest in Perth, Australia, June 13, 2020. (AFP Photo)
Highlights
Hundreds of marchers also took to the streets in Austin, Texas, after an armed BLM protester was shot dead

Police have fired teargas at protesters in Portland and Tempe, Arizona, while hundreds of activists gathered on the streets of Austin as cities across the US saw their 61st consecutive night of unrest. 

In Oregon, the 'Wall of Moms' activist group took to the streets to demand that federal agents leave the city following a weekend of clashes.

Fires were lit in the streets as around 1,000 people gathered in parks opposite the federal courthouse, where agents are embedded to protect the building, Oregon Live reported.

There were clashes between agents and demonstrators who attacked a protective fence that has been put up around the courthouse, with rubber bullets and tear gas fired into the crowd, as bottles and fireworks were sent back the other way. 

In Tempe, the demonstration began peacefully at about 5pm as roughly 200 people gathered in Tempe Beach Park to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Protesters then began marching through the streets and ultimately blocked traffic on Scottsdale Road, prompting Tempe Police to declare the gathering unlawful.

After the crowd ignored orders to disperse, police deployed tear gas at the protesters, who responded by launching projectiles and shouting profanities as they moved toward a line of officers on bicycles.  

And in Austin, Texas, where a protester was shot dead on Saturday, hundreds of people marched to the police headquarters to demand justice. 

Tempe Police Chief Sylvia Moir tweeted about the confrontation between police and protesters just after 8pm local time, writing: 'It is unacceptable to hurl projectiles at people — cops are people there to protect free expression and provide public safety. When you throw objects at them, that is NOT OK.'

AZFamily.com reported that two to four protesters had been arrested as of 9pm. Video recorded by the outlet showed officers tackling one protester.  

A Tempe police spokesperson declined to comment specifically about the events, saying: 'This is a fluid and active scene. We will continue to monitor the situation, and address issues if and when needed. At this time, no further information is available.' 

The protest that preceded the clash was organized in honor of Dalvin Hollins and Dion Johnson, two black men who were shot and killed by police in metro Phoenix.  

Monday marked the fourth anniversary of when 19-year-old Hollins was fatally shot by Tempe police responding to a call about a suspected robbery at a Walgreens in 2016. 

It was also the day before what would have the 29th birthday of Johnson, who was shot and killed by Arizona State Trooper George Cervantes on May 25, 2020.  

The protesters marched to the Mill Avenue bridge, where they kneeled in the road and sang 'Happy Birthday' to Johnson. 

They also hung a large banner on the bridge with the words: 'End qualified immunity' - referencing the legal doctrine that protects law enforcement and other officials from being sued for official actions. 


The organizers of the demonstration - Tempe Against Police Violence, Black Lives Matter Phoenix-Metro, Direct Action Arizona and Young Democratic Socialists of America - demanded that the state Department of Public Safety release the names of all officers involved in Johnson's death.  

'We're sick and tired of our folks, our brothers and sisters being killed by the racist police departments,' organizer Darien Barrett of Tempe Against Police Violence told AZFamily.com. 

Monday marked the 61st night of nationwide protests against racism and police brutality sparked the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis cop kneeled on his neck on May 25. 

A large protest formed in Portland, Oregon, where clashes between demonstrators and federal agents intensified over the weekend outside the city's Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse. 

Scenes from Monday evening were significantly calmer than preceding nights - though many feared violence could erupt later on after police were seen deploying gas into crowds. 

Portland's 'Wall of Moms' turned out once again, albeit in slightly smaller numbers than they had last week. 

The crowds gathered in Lownsdale Square before making their way toward the courthouse and ultimately congregating next door at the Multnomah County Justice Center.  

At around 9pm local time a few federal officers were seen emerging from the courthouse, eliciting boos from the crowds across the street. 

The officers immediately turned to walk back into the courthouse as people shouted at them and appeared to advance. 

Soon after the throngs of people outside the Justice Center erupted with chants of: 'I can't breathe!'

Myke Tavarres, a former NFL player from Lake Oswego who has become a familiar face at the protests, was heard urging people to stay away from the courthouse because targeting it would only stoke violence with the federal agents.  

Meanwhile another large demonstration was held in Austin, where an armed protester was shot dead over the weekend after a car drove into the crowd. 

A few dozen people set up outside the Austin Police Department headquarters and chanted at a line of officers stationed outside for a few minutes before the officers retreated into the building. 

Earlier on Monday it was revealed that President Donald Trump is sending at least 100 additional federal agents into Portland after weekend protests saw the troops repeatedly fire tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls into crowds as they attempted to breach a fence surrounding the federal courthouse.  

Trump decried the protests and subsequent media coverage in a pair of tweets on Monday night, writing: 'The Fake News Media is trying to portray the Portland and Seattle "protesters" as wonderful, sweet and innocent people just out for a little stroll. 

'Actually, they are sick and deranged Anarchists & Agitators who our great men & women of Law Enforcement easily control, but who would destroy our American cities, and worse, if Sleepy Joe Biden, the puppet of the Left, ever won. 

'Markets would crash and cities would burn. Our Country would suffer like never before. We will beat the Virus, soon, and go on to the Golden Age - better than ever before!' 

The president sent a direct warning to protesters earlier in the night, tweeting:  'Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently re-enacted Statues & Monuments Act. 

The president also sent a direct warning to protesters in Portland and nationwide in a tweet earlier Monday
The president also sent a direct warning to protesters in Portland and nationwide in a tweet earlier Monday

'MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON. Don't do it!' 

And prior to that tweet, Trump doubled down on his support for the federal agents' actions in another post, claiming that federal properties in Portland 'wouldn't last a day' without their presence.   

Protesters from the Wall of Moms and Don't Shoot Portland activist groups filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, accusing federal officers of violating their free speech, using excessive force and overstepping their authority. 

The suit came as reports emerged that the DHS is also considering sending 50 additional Customs and Border Protection personnel to Portland in the coming days. 

Many critics see the deployment of federal troops as a political ploy by Trump to drum up a 'law and order' campaign amid his uphill re-election battle - while the president and his allies insist that it was necessary to protect the city.

This article has been adapted from its original source.


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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