At this point, it’s common knowledge that protests against police brutality and systemic racism are ongoing across the country, with no sign that they’ll be slowing down anytime soon. Over the past weekend across multiple states, peaceful protests turned violent, with one resulting in a person’s death.
In recent weeks, Portland, Ore., has become one of the central focus points of ongoing protests against police brutality, in large part because of President Trump’s decisions to deploy federal agents to the area, a move he is apparently doubling down on, the Washington Post reported Monday. An email obtained by the Post revealed that the U.S. Marshals Service has deployed 100 deputy U.S. Marshals to combat the protesters in Portland. The Department of Homeland Security is also considering sending an additional 50 agents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Most of the protests against systemic racism have taken place at the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. As of mid-July, there have already been 114 federal agents deployed to the courthouse. Protesters and local politicians have condemned the presence of the federal agents, with some seeing it as an occupation of the city. According to CNN, protesters have arrived with lasers, gas masks, shields and leafblowers to combat the federal agents. On Friday night, a group of protesters was chanting “Black Lives Matter” before tear gas was released on the crowd.
A group of protesters was marching down Interstate 225 in Aurora, Colo., when a vehicle drove through the crowd, according to NBC News. Luckily, there were no reports of anyone being seriously injured as a result. The vehicle was eventually towed and the police are currently investigating the incident. Later in the day, a protester decided to fire off a shot which struck another protester. The victim was taken to the hospital and was reported to be in stable condition. The protest was declared an unlawful assembly after a group of protesters began to smash the windows of a courthouse and started a fire in an office.
Protests have been going on for the last month in Colorado because of renewed outrage at the police killing of Elijah McClain last summer.
According to WCIA, a similar incident occurred in Champaign, Ill. A group of protesters was marching for rent cancelations and an end to utility shut-offs when a truck began to drive through the crowd. The truck didn’t hit anyone, though it did run over one person’s bike. The protesters were able to obtain the license plate from the vehicle and have reported it to the police. The group was also protesting the Rogue Barber Company, a local barbershop that makes its customers sign a waiver saying they are not a part of Black Lives Matter.
WTVR reports that in Richmond, Va., a peaceful protest on Saturday was declared a riot after windows to local businesses were broken and a city dump truck was set on fire. Police Chief Gerald Smith has since stated that most of the violence was spearheaded by white supremacists masquerading as Black Lives Matter protesters. “We have identified some individuals who have been seen with the Boogaloo boys and some Antifa groups around the area. The majority of those individuals who were there last night were Caucasian,” Smith said during a news conference on Sunday. He also said that many of the people involved were outside agitators.
Six men were arrested Saturday on charges of unlawful assembly and two of the men face felony charges of assault on a law enforcement officer and rioting with a firearm. Smith has said that Richmond police are reviewing surveillance footage from the night to find the people responsible for the rioting. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney thanked the Black Lives Matter protesters for trying to help bring order to the chaos. “I want to send a thanks to the BLM protesters on the ground who decried the white supremacists once they were identified. I’m thankful to you for drawing the line and sticking up not just for the sanctity of your movement, but also the safety of your fellow Richmonders that you marched alongside as well,” Stoney said.
In Louisville, Ky., a group of armed protesters calling themselves the Not Fucking Around Coalition (NFAC), took to the streets to demand the arrest of the officers who killed Breonna Taylor. According to the Courier-Journal, three protesters were shot when a fellow protester unintentionally discharged their gun. According to Police spokesman Lamont Washington, one victim suffered minor injuries, another was in serious but stable condition and the third is currently in the ICU but is expected to survive. Police are investigating the matter as a negligent shooting, not an accident, which can result in criminal charges being filed.
The protest on Saturday saw the Three Percenters, a militia group, descend on Louisville in response to NFAC’s protest. Both groups were on the scene but there were no reports of violence breaking out between the two groups. Eleven people were arrested Saturday on charges of first-degree evading, first-degree wanton endangerment, obstructing a roadway and interfering with a governmental operation. According to police, some of the protesters marched from Jefferson Square Park to Lynn Family Stadium and attempted to break through one of the gates. Afterward, they headed toward the Big Four Bridge and obstructed it with cars and began to throw objects at the police.
The events of the past weekend have shown that tensions are only escalating between the protesters, counter-protesters, and the federal government. This has already resulted in the death of one person, as over the weekend The Root reported that a man in Austin, Texas had been shot and killed during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Stay safe and stay smart out there, folks.