Portland Police Chief Slams ‘Incomprehensible’ Violence, Says Rioters Target Local Officers with Mortars and Commercial-Grade Fireworks

Portland police chief Chuck Lovell slammed “incomprehensible” violence on Thursday after rioters moved to target city police precincts.

Riots in Portland have been ongoing since the May death of George Floyd, an African American man killed during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers. Rioters targeted the city’s federal courthouse for two months, assaulting federal officers with explosives and in some cases shining lasers to blind officers.

City police began coordinating with federal officers to protect the courthouse last week. However, rioters are now targeting Portland’s police stations.

“Last night’s violence by rioters at our east precinct was incomprehensible,” Lovell said at a virtual press conference on Thursday. “We have people who are intentionally planning to go out and attack precincts, trap people inside, [and] set fires to these buildings.”

Lovell continued, “We have nightly violence where officers get mortars thrown at them, rocks, commercial grade fireworks, and these senseless attempts to injure officers and destroy police facilities [are] reprehensible and [they] need to stop.”

Lovell said that the riots were intended to injure officers and could not be considered connected to the George Floyd protests.

A local NBC affiliate reported that rioters attempted to start a fire at Portland’s East Precinct. Additionally, a memorial to a Portland police officer who died while pursuing a suspect who shot a child was vandalized.

The Department of Homeland Security announced that crowds outside the federal courthouse “peaked at 50 people” over Wednesday night, however now local law enforcement was bearing the brunt of the assaults.

“While criminal violence towards federal officers and property has receded, Portland’s rioters have since redirected their attacks to local law enforcement, employing many of the same violent tactics previously used against federal officers and property,” the DHS said in a statement.