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Police: More than 500 arrests since May at Portland protests

August 21, 2020 GMT
A small fire was set inside of the Multnomah Building during a protest on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Protesters in Portland broke out the windows of a county government building, sprayed lighter fluid inside and set a fire in a demonstration that started Tuesday night and ended Wednesday morning with clashes with police, officials said. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)
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A small fire was set inside of the Multnomah Building during a protest on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Protesters in Portland broke out the windows of a county government building, sprayed lighter fluid inside and set a fire in a demonstration that started Tuesday night and ended Wednesday morning with clashes with police, officials said. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)
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A small fire was set inside of the Multnomah Building during a protest on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in Portland, Ore. Protesters in Portland broke out the windows of a county government building, sprayed lighter fluid inside and set a fire in a demonstration that started Tuesday night and ended Wednesday morning with clashes with police, officials said. (Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian via AP)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police in Portland, Oregon, said Thursday they have declared a riot 17 times and arrested a total of more than 500 people during nightly demonstrations throughout the city that began in late May following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Data released by the Portland Police Bureau showed fires were set by protesters on 41 of the 83 nights of protest, acts of vandalism were committed on 49 nights, and projectiles were thrown during at least 58 nights.

Since the protests began on May 29, police have only recorded seven nights that were free of vandalism, fireworks or intentionally set fires.

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“When criminal behavior occurs, especially behavior threatening the safety of those near the event or those targeted by the event, law enforcement must respond,” police said in a statement on the department’s website.

Also Thursday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring federal agents from dispersing or arresting journalists or legal observers during the ongoing protests. The American Civil Liberties Union had sued over the police actions.

For weeks, police officials have received questions regarding where demonstrations have been taking place in the city, crimes that occur and police actions. In response, the department released a timeline of the protests.

The most recent data was from Wednesday night, when police said two people were arrested and protesters lit fires, committed vandalism and threw projectiles,

Police declared a riot, meaning six or more persons engage in “tumultuous and violent” conduct and intentionally or recklessly created a grave risk of public alarm.

Protesters clashed with federal agents for the first time in weeks at a demonstration targeting a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building.

Windows were spray-painted and broken before a riot was declared and authorities used tear gas and other riot control methods to break up the crowd, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Several officers suffered minor injuries after they were hit with rocks.

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Associated Press writer Alan Clendenning contributed from Phoenix.

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Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.