Opposing federal agents, violent protests erupt in US cities

Protests took a violent turn in several U.S. cities over the weekend, including Seattle; Oakland, Calif.; Richmond, Virginia;  Austin, Texas; and Baltimore. 

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Demonstrators try to topple a steel fence during a Black Lives Matter protest at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse in Portland, Oregon, July 25, 2020.

Protests took a violent turn in several U.S. cities over the weekend with demonstrators squaring off against federal agents outside a courthouse in Portland, Oregon, forcing police in Seattle to retreat into a station house and setting fire to vehicles in California and Virginia.

A protest against police violence in Austin, Texas, turned deadly when police said a protester was shot and killed by a person who drove through a crowd of marchers. And someone was shot and wounded in Aurora, Colorado, after a car drove through a protest there, authorities said.

The unrest Saturday and early Sunday stemmed from the weeks of protests over racial injustice and the police treatment of people of color that flared up after the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Mr. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died after a white police officer used his knee to pin down Mr. Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes while Mr. Floyd begged for air.

In Seattle, police officers retreated into a precinct station early Sunday, hours after large demonstrations in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Some demonstrators lingered after officers filed into the department’s East Precinct around 1 a.m., but most cleared out a short time later, according to video posted online.

At a late-night news conference, Seattle police Chief Carmen Best called for peace. Rocks, bottles, fireworks, and mortars were fired at police during the weekend unrest, and police said they arrested at least 45 people for assaults on officers, obstruction, and failure to disperse. Twenty-one officers were hurt, with most of their injuries considered minor, police said.

In Portland, thousands of people gathered Saturday evening for another night of protests over George Floyd’s killing and the presence of federal agents recently sent to the city by President Donald Trump. Protesters breached a fence surrounding the city’s federal courthouse building where the agents have been stationed.

Police declared the situation to be a riot and at around 1:20 a.m., they began ordering people to leave the area surrounding the courthouse or risk arrest, saying on Twitter that the violence had created “a grave risk” to the public. About 20 minutes later, federal officers and local police could be seen attempting to clear the area and deploying tear gas, however protesters remained past 2:30 a.m., forming lines across intersections and holding makeshift shields as police patrolled and closed blocks abutting the area. Multiple arrests were made, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many.

In the Texas capital of Austin, Garrett Foster was shot and killed Saturday night by a person who had driven through the march against police violence.

Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said a car turned onto the block where protesters stood and honked its horn. The driver and several witnesses told police that Mr. Foster approached the driver and pointed an assault rifle at them.

In video streamed live on Facebook, a car can be heard honking before several shots ring out and protesters start screaming and scattering for cover. Police could then be seen tending to someone lying in the street.

Chief Manley said the driver called 911 to report the incident and was later taken into custody and released. Police didn’t immediately identify the driver.

Sheila Foster, Mr. Garrett's mother, said she was told her son was pushing his fiancée, who uses a wheelchair, through an intersection when the suspect was driving “erratically” through the crowd. She said she was told the driver shot her son three times.

In the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, meanwhile, a protester shot and wounded someone after a car drove through a crowd marching on an interstate highway, police said. The wounded person was taken to a hospital in stable condition. Police didn’t release many details about the shooting, including whether the person who was shot had been in the car. Police said on Twitter that demonstrators also caused “major damage” to a courthouse.

Protesters in Oakland, California, set fire to a courthouse, damaged a police station, broke windows, spray-painted graffiti, shot fireworks, and pointed lasers at officers after a peaceful demonstration Saturday evening turned to unrest, police said.

In Virginia's capital, Richmond, a dump truck was torched as several hundred protesters and police faced off late Saturday during a demonstration of support for the protesters in Portland. Police declared it to be an “unlawful assembly” at around 11 p.m. and used what appeared to be tear gas to disperse the group. Five people were arrested in the incident and charged with unlawful assembly. A sixth person was also arrested and charged with rioting and assault on a law enforcement officer.

In downtown Atlanta on Sunday, federal agents examined damage to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility where windows were shattered late Saturday. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, FBI spokesman Kevin Rowson said in an email. No arrests had been announced.

And in Baltimore, people from a group of nearly 100 demonstrators spray-painted anti-police messages on a Fraternal Order of Police building and adjacent sidewalks on Saturday night, The Baltimore Sun reported.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. AP writers Gillian Flaccus and Sara Cline in Portland, Oregon; and Sally Ho and Chris Grygiel in Seattle contributed to this report.

Editor’s note: As a public service, the Monitor has removed the paywall for all our coronavirus coverage. It’s free.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.