Police deploy tear gas, flash bangs at protesters in downtown Portland

Protesters take to the the streets of Portland for the fourth night Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, following a protest the night before that descended into chaos. (KATU Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) - Police officers in riot gear deployed tear gas and multiple flash bangs at protesters in downtown Portland Friday after a once-peaceful protest got rowdy.

This comes a day after violent, anarchist protests left more than $1 million in damages at local businesses.

The protest started peacefully at City Hall around 5 p.m. but grew both in size and unruliness within a couple of hours.

Police told thousands of protesters to march along a designated route along SW 4th Avenue -- many didn't follow those directions and instead marched around the city and then returned to SW 6th and Stark, where they were met with police in riot gear.

Officers used a loudspeaker to tell protesters their gathering is unlawful, as they've participated in "vandalism and assault." The situation escalated around 9:30 p.m. when officers threw multiple flash bangs in an attempt to clear the crowd.

Police say protesters threw flaming projectiles back at officers, and that's when police used tear gas. Much of the crowd cleared out at that point, but many banded together and started marching northbound on SW 4th Avenue, where they were met with police officers in riot gear.

Projectiles were still being thrown at officers after 11 p.m. At least two people have been taken into custody.

Two other groups of protesters attempted to cross the Morrison Bridge and Burnside Bridge, but were stopped by police.

TriMet service in the area was heavily affected. Throughout the evening, police told peaceful protesters to disengage.

"Unfortunately, we’re seeing a lot of aggression," Sgt. Pete Simpson with Portland Police said. "Some people we encountered early on showed up armed with bats and shields and backpacks full of projectiles, there have been road flares thrown at officers."

Many people have suggested that the National Guard gets involved. In response, Simpson said they are not trained to handle city streets or crowd management and wanted to avoid that aspect.

Rally organizers with Portland's Resistance said they wanted to keep Friday's protest limited to a standing rally, without a march. The "heal-in" comes less than 24 hours after anarchists broke from about 4,000 protesters on Portland streets, and damaged dozens of cars at dealership and bashed in windows in the Pearl District.

Police now say they may have caused more than $1 million in damage Thursday night.

Greg McKelvey, the organizer of Portland's Resistance, said he and his group were in no way involved in the violence. In fact, the group has started a GoFundMe page to help local businesses damaged in the riots rebuild. So far, they've raised more than $30,000.

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