ATLANTA — 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, Ore., 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 a witness says the driver of a car that drove through a crowd of marchers opened fire on an armed demonstrator who approached the vehicle. And someone was shot and wounded in Aurora, Colo., 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. Floyd, who was Black and handcuffed, died when a white police officer used his knee to pin down Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes while 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 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.
About 20 minutes later, federal officers and local police could be seen attempting to clear the area and deploying tear gas. 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.