The anger in the United States is great: after massive police violence, business is burning in Seattle. Demonstrators attack the federal court in Portland.
On Saturday evening, thousands of people in the United States once again demonstrated against police violence and systematic racism in society. Triggered by the violent death of African American George Floyd at the end of May, the protests continue uninterrupted even in the midst of the corona pandemic. Especially in the liberal metropolitan areas of Seattle, Portland and Austin, there were confrontations between demonstrators and police over the weekend.
At least 45 demonstrators were arrested in Seattle on Saturday after violent riots. The protests left a picture of the devastation on the streets of the city in the US state of Washington.
Broken shop windows and set fire to shops were the result. On the posters of the approximately 5,000 demonstrators, the same statements could be read as in the past few weeks: “Feds go home” or “No justice, no peace”.
Seattle’s police used pepper spray and lightning grenades and tried to break up the crowd by making targeted advances into the crowd. There were injuries on both sides. The police officially declared the demonstrations a riot. More than twenty police officers were injured in the riots.
Daryl Breaux, who works in the King County juvenile detention center, saw her SUV lighted by demonstrators. “I do not deserve this! I am a young, hard working woman with a university degree. A black woman, mind you. And born and raised in Seattle,” she told local TV station KIRO7.
The fact that the riots in Seattle were directed primarily against the police is also due to the recent events in Portland. A few weeks ago, the U.S. Department of Justice, upon President Donald Trump’s decision, dispatched federal armed forces to Portland to protect courthouses and other state institutions from damage.
However, video footage showed that these federal agencies also arrested protesters who posed no immediate threat to the US government’s property. Above all, the fact that the deployed troops were traveling in Portland in unmarked vehicles and making arrests angered citizens and politicians in the city. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who alleged an “overreaction” to the federal authorities and suspected political motives for Trump, was himself the victim of a police tear gas operation last week.
There were riots in Portland again on Saturday. After the demonstrations remained peaceful during the day, they became increasingly aggressive during the evening and night. Shortly before midnight, about 5,000 demonstrators gathered in front of the federal court in Portland and shook the fence. Some of the crowd shot fireworks at the building. After some demonstrators managed to climb the fence, the authorities replied with tear gas.
A smaller group of demonstrators gathered in downtown Portland. A leader of the demonstrators recalled that the demonstrations were against Portland’s police force. “We have to withdraw the funds from the police,” he said. However, in recent days there have also been voices questioning the daily demonstrations in Portland. Portland is one of the “whitest” cities in the United States, yet has become a figurehead for the Black Lives Matter movement. Only about six percent of the city’s residents are black. “When I look at the crowd, I don’t see many black people,” a 21-year-old African-American activist recently told the Guardian.
Leading black activists are wondering whether the Portland demonstrations are not just a continuation of the dominance of the white population at the expense of black residents.