Sunday, February 21, 2021

Tacoma, Portland see weekend of violent Antifa, anti-ICE unrest

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Demonstrations persisted over the weekend in Portland and Tacoma, Wash., where anti-police crowds displayed Antifa messages and decried Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) even after President Biden offered a sweeping immigration overhaul last week. 

In Tacoma, located 30 miles south of Seattle, at least 150 people gathered at a park before marching through downtown where windows were shattered and spray paint was tagged on multiple buildings. Several items were set up to create a barricade in the street where a large trash can was set ablaze.

Protesters wore black bloc attire and some carried flags that read “Antifascist Action.” The crowd also passed by the Pierce County Jail.

While officers were observing the protest, three people appeared to try to get onto the roof of a building downtown. Two were armed with a handgun and knives and were arrested, police said. The third got away.

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Trash burns as people take part in a protest against police brutality, late Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash., south of Seattle. The protest came a day after at least two people were injured when a Tacoma Police officer responding to a report of a street race drove his car through a crowd of pedestrians that had gathered around him. Several people were knocked to the ground and at least one person was run over. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

There were no known injuries from the demonstration, the Tacoma Police Department tweeted, adding that the demonstration had broken up and the roadways were cleared by 11 p.m. local time.

The protesters came a day after a video widely circulated online showed a Tacoma police car drive into a crowd gathering in an intersection on Saturday, appearing to run over at least one person.  

Two people were injured and went to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.

Protesters chase a street preacher, right, who was using a loudspeaker to deliver a sermon during a protest against police brutality, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Protesters chase a street preacher, right, who was using a loudspeaker to deliver a sermon during a protest against police brutality, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021, in downtown Tacoma, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The officer driving has been placed on administrative leave, and the Tacoma Community’s Police Advisory Committee scheduled a virtual meeting Monday at 6 p.m. to discuss the incident.

The officer, identified as a 58-year-old man who has been with the department for 29 and a half years, had been surrounded by a crowd after responding to a report about a street race, where about 100 people were blocking an intersection Saturday night, KING-TV, the NBC affiliated station in Seattle, reported.

Police said people began hitting the body of the cruiser, and the officer feared for his safety. The officer drove forward through the crowd, and then stopped and called for medical aid, the department said.

In Portland, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Portland, Ore., was once again the target of protesters on Saturday night. Video circulated on social media showed the crowd at one point chanting, “No borders! No nations! Abolish deportations!”

Law enforcement officers from the Federal Protective Service were heard declaring an “unlawful assembly” around 10 p.m. local time and ordering the crowd to leave the area. The FPS is a unit of the Department of Homeland Security.

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A recording played that warned that anyone who trespasses on federal property with a weapon will be arrested. Federal law enforcement also deployed tear gas to disperse the crowd.

The same ICE building was targeted last Wednesday, hours after the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C. That night, some members of a crowd of about 150 rioters in Portland caused damage to the ICE building and also marched against the state headquarters of the Democratic Party.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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