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Oregon governor finally activates National Guard to counter violent riots in Portland
Nathan Howard / Stringer

Oregon governor finally activates National Guard to counter violent riots in Portland

After months of near-nightly riots, the Oregon governor finally calls in the National Guard

The Oregon National Guard was called into Portland after violent riots erupted in the city on Wednesday night. A riot was declared by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office around 7 p.m. after vandals caused damage in the city.

Police said there were two groups that marched through the streets of Portland, where there have been near-nightly protests and riots since George Floyd's death in late May. Protesters shouted obscenities about Portland's mayor: "F*** Ted Wheeler!"

Content warning: Graphic content

Rioters smashed windows, including a business that had a sign with a Martin Luther King Jr. quote that read: "Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." Protesters dressed in all black burned American flags.

The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office said that a "large group of people created a significant risk to public safety." An unlawful assembly was declared, and ultimately a riot was declared by authorities. The Unified Command, which comprises the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office and the Oregon State Police, engaged protesters.

After months of violent and dangerous riots in Portland, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown finally activated the National Guard to deal with the riots.

Brown deployed 50 National Guard troops in June, but she promised that they were only in Portland as "support personnel" to "care for the injured, processing arrests, directing traffic – much as they do when they are asked to respond to wildfires."

"They will not be on the front lines making arrests or doing crowd control," Brown said. "You don't diffuse violence by having soldiers on our streets. Having soldiers on our streets around America is exactly what President Trump wants. ... I want to ensure that the public can safely raise their voices in this much-needed call for reform."

On Wednesday, the National Guard was on the ground in Portland to help police control the rioters.

The Unified Command issued a statement on the deployment of the National Guard.

"Widespread violence is occurring in Downtown Portland. In the interest of public safety, Governor Kate Brown, under advice of the Unified Command, has activated the use of the Oregon National Guard to assist local law enforcement in responding to any acts of violence, and to maintain public order and ensure community safety. Guard members are trained in crowd control and will be riding with local response teams. They are dressed in military style garb, which is their uniform Oregon National Guard members are civilian community members helping to protect us. We don't take this decision lightly. Under the Governor's Order, we continue to work together and share our resources and information to address any public safety concerns.

At least 10 people were arrested, including a man allegedly with a loaded rifle, as well as a man suspected to have thrown a Molotov cocktail at police officers. Police also seized gun magazines, commercial-grade fireworks, hammers, and knives.

Prior to Wednesday's violence, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown extended Monday's executive order calling for the Unified Command, a "joint incident command structure allowing multiple agencies to respond to election-related unrest," according to KOIN. The order was set to expire at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and will now run through 5 p.m. on Friday.

"Across the United States, elections officials are working hard to ensure that every vote is counted, and it may be several days until we know the results of this election," Brown said in a press release on Wednesday. "It's important to trust the process, and the system that has ensured free and fair elections in this country through the decades, even in times of great crisis."

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