Non-scalable fencing has been reinstalled at Mark O’Hatfield court house in Portland, Oregon Sunday after rioters vandalized the building over the weekend, the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed to FOX News.
Oregon Live reporter Maxine Bernstein shared photos of city workers setting up the fence on Twitter.
Portland has been the site of frequent protests, many involving violent clashes between officers and demonstrators, ever since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days.
The fencing had been installed in June to help de-escalate tensions between city police and protesters following Floyd’s death, according to FOX 12 Oregon, but reportedly turned into a point of contention.
Police said at the time that they recognized the fence had become a “symbol of divide” between the department and the community, and that they would remove the fence to show “our willingness to have dialog and peaceful communication toward starting to heal our community.”
“We are open and listening to discussions of how the community envisions its police serve them in the future,” the department said in a series of tweets. “Our hope is that the nightly violence and destruction around the justice center will stop and the focus can be directed toward peaceful conversation.”
Local and federal officials held conversations over several months to determine the best time to take the fence down. The Department of Homeland Security told FOX 12 on Friday that the decision to remove the fencing on Wednesday was “made in collaboration with local leaders from Portland as part of a broader effort to help the city return to normalcy.”
However, just one day after the fencing was removed, rioters marched down the streets of Portland, setting fires and smashing windows.
Earlier in the day Thursday, a crowd had gathered to protest plans to replace and expand an oil pipeline that runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and the Canadian province of Alberta, journalist Suzette Smith reported on Twitter.
Some protesters also cited the start of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minnesota as a reason for the unrest, Smith wrote. Chauvin is the former Minneapolis police officer who is facing murder charges in the May 25 police custody death of Floyd.
Federal officers deployed impact munitions, tear gas, flash-bang grenades and smoke bombs after protesters threw objects at the courthouse, lit a fire with plywood pulled off the building, and broke glass near the entrance, according to Fox 12’s Camila Orti.
Thursday’s violence in Portland was expected, with some business owners boarding up their businesses earlier in the day, OregonLive.com reported.
Whether anyone was arrested or injured was not immediately clear.
The violence continued into Friday, with police detaining a group of about 100 people in a march devolved into property destruction in Portland’s Pearl District. At about 9 p.m. Friday, the group began marching in the street blocking vehicular traffic, from Jamison Park, 810 Northwest 11th Avenue.
Police advised protesters by loudspeaker that the street was open to vehicular traffic, but the crowd continued to march in the street.
At about 9:15p.m., at Northwest 15th Avenue and Northwest Overton Street, some in the crowd began breaking windows and officers moved in to address the criminal behavior, creating a perimeter around the group on Northwest Marshall Street between Northwest 13th Avenue and Northwest 14th Avenue.
Police warned the group that they were being detained for investigation of crimes, were not free to leave, and that they should comply with officers’ lawful orders, or face arrest or force being used against them, including, but not limited to, crowd control agents, impact weapons, or tear gas. In addition, authorities invited legal observers, press, and anyone who was medically fragile or anyone who needs immediate medical attention to leave the enclosed area if they wished.
Individuals being detained were identified and photographed as part of the investigation before being released. Some refused to comply and locked arms together in an effort to interfere with the investigation. Officers escorted them away and they were arrested, including one who was charged in the earlier window vandalism.
Officers discovered numerous items left behind by people inside the perimeter, including a crowbar, hammers, bear spray, slugging weapon with rocks, high impact slingshot, and knives
As the event unfolded, groups formed on the outside and physically challenged officers. Some threw rocks and full cans of beer at officers. Officers deployed some OC (pepper) spray and one impact munition.
Thirteen people are facing charges from the protest, including disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of a firearm, resisting arrest and interfering with police, among other offenses.
Following Friday’s violence, the Department of Homeland Security told FOX 12 its Federal Protection Services unit would “continue to fulfill its mandate of ensuring the safety and security of federal employees and facilities, while maintaining our commitment to working with the City of Portland and the community as part of a collective effort to restore the downtown area.”
Fox News’ Dom Calicchio and the Associated Press contributed to this report.