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Portland moms and dads marched in droves Monday night, joining downtown protesters in a demonstration that would later swell overnight amid escalating tensions with feds in the city, according to multiple reports.
On the 54th night of demonstrations, the group of parents dressed in yellow and orange marched from the downtown Waterfront to the Justice Center. They reportedly set off to meet up and protect protesters who they said had been gassed or injured by federal officers.
“I found it wrong that the federal government was trying to come here and prevent people from protesting and exercising their right to assemble and protest,” mom Megan Kelly told Portland’s KATU.
Mardy Widman, a 79-year-old grandmother of five, protests the presence of federal agents outside the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse in Portland, Ore., Monday, July 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Portland has experienced weeks of unrest following the police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
President Trump has insisted that federal troops are needed to protect government assets in Portland, but the city’s mayor has called on Trump to remove federal agents sent there.
The city’s Democrat leadership has been criticized for its response. “The elected officials have condoned the destruction and chaos” in the city, said Daryl Turner, the head of the Portland Police Association, on Sunday.
State Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum claimed in court papers that masked federal officers have arrested people on the street, far from the courthouse, with no probable cause and whisked them away in unmarked cars.
Protesters projected these words on the front of the Multnomah County Justice Center, Monday, July 20, 2020 in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
The groups called the “Wall of Moms” and “PDXDadPod,” left around 9 p.m., and were later captured on social media in front of the justice center, eventually joining a crowd of thousands that reportedly stretched across a whole block.
The parents and others were seen chanting and singing “Hands up please don’t shoot me.” Demonstrators said they would remain nonviolent and protest as long as federal officers are in the city, the station reported.
Just before midnight, the unrest began to swell as protesters were seen knocking and coming close to the courthouse building, which resulted in federal officers setting off smoke gas, according to The Oregonian.
Some people started to tear off the plywood in front of the building around 12:20 a.m., which prompted police to throw devices that emitted smoke and an orange substance into the air.
“Hundreds of people are clogging the area along SW 3rd Ave outside the Federal Courthouse and packing into the portico on the west side,” Portland Police wrote on Twitter. “This activity is being live-streamed on many sites. Avoid the area for safety.”
Police would later acknowledge that federal law enforcement deployed CS gas, also known as tear gas, and advised people to avoid the area of SW 3rd and SW Main. They reported people were throwing projectiles and some were armed with clubs, hammers, and other weapons.
Protesters were later seen interfering with and pushing a federal officer away from a protester who was being arrested.
The unrest and clashes between federal authorities and protesters continued overnight, as officers wearing camouflage and dark uniforms continued to fire impact munitions toward demonstrators, the paper reported.
Fox News’ Greg Norman and the Associated Press contributed to this report