A statue of George Washington was pulled down by protesters on Thursday night, which was Juneteenth eve, reports CBS Portland affiliate KOIN-TV. The nation's first president owned slaves.
KOIN said Thursday marked the 21st day of demonstrations for racial justice and police reform sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Two groups — Rose City Justice and Lavender Caucus — hosted a sit-in rally at Jefferson High School in the evening where community members shared their experiences with racism with a crowd of a few hundred.
A separate group of about 20 people met around 10 p.m. at the site of the large bronze statue of Washington.
Some wrapped the statue's head in an American flag and lit the flag on fire.
Their numbers grew over the next hour until there were enough people to pull it down. They quickly scattered.
A KOIN news crew found the statue face down and covered in graffiti.
A statue of George Washington has been pulled down with ropes at NE 57th & Sandy near the German American Society. #koin6news #PDXprotests #protest2020 #Portland #BlackLivesMatter #BLMPDX #BLM #Oregon #Investigation #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #vandalism #spraypaint #statue #rosecity pic.twitter.com/xmWYtpcbJE— Jennifer Dowling (@JenDowlingKoin6) June 19, 2020
Portland police arrived a short time later.
Elsewhere in Portland, a small crowd of demonstrators stood outside the Justice Center. They moved on after a short time and stopped near the Apple store but dispersed before midnight. Some said they wanted to rest ahead of Friday, when they planned to mark Juneteenth.
Thursday's events followed a peaceful march on Wednesday in which a large crowd walked through the streets of downtown Portland — eventually ending up in the Pearl District, where they tried to set up a so-called "autonomous zone" outside Mayor Ted Wheeler's residence.