SEATTLE • Weeks of violent clashes between federal agents and protesters in Portland, Oregon, galvanised thousands of people to march through the streets of American cities on Saturday, injecting new life into protests that had largely waned in recent weeks.
One of the most intense protests was in Seattle, where a day of clashes left a trail of broken windows, slashed tyres and burning trailers.
At least 45 protesters had been arrested by the early evening, and both protesters and police officers were injured.
Carrying signs saying “Feds Go Home” and shouting chants of “No justice, no peace”, some among the crowd of about 5,000 protesters stopped at the site of a future youth detention centre and lit buildings there on fire.
Some smashed windows of nearby businesses, ignited a fire in a coffee shop and blew a 20cm hole through the wall of the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct building, the police said.
“At this point, we declared the event to be a riot, and several orders to disperse were given,” Seattle police chief Carmen Best said at a news conference.
The police confronted the crowd, deploying flash grenades and pepper spray before taking people into custody.
In Austin, Texas, the police said one man was shot and killed just before 10pm during a protest in the city’s downtown.
In Los Angeles, protesters clashed with officers in front of the federal courthouse downtown. Videos showed people smashing windows and lobbing water bottles at officers after protesters said the police fired projectiles at them.
The federal courthouse in Portland has been the scene of nightly, chaotic demonstrations for weeks, which looked likely to continue on Saturday as thousands participated in marches around the city, in the 58th consecutive day of protests there.
Nurses in scrubs joined an organised group of mothers in helmets and fathers in hard hats beside the fence of a federal courthouse where federal agents – a deployment that has been a key focus of the recent demonstrations – have been assembled.
A CHANGED COUNTRY
This is not the country I immigrated to. It feels like we are rapidly becoming a fascist state and a police state.
MS BIPASHA MUKHERJEE, a resident from Kirkland in Washington state who has been protesting on the streets since May. She migrated to the US from India more than 30 years ago.
Protesters in several cities said the smoke-filled videos of federal agents firing tear gas and shoving protesters in Portland had brought them to the streets on Saturday.
Ms Bipasha Mukherjee, 52, from Kirkland, Washington state, said she had been protesting on the streets since May and that it was worrisome to her to see such aggressive tactics used by the police.
“This is not the country I immigrated to,” said Ms Mukherjee, who arrived from India more than 30 years ago. “It feels like we are rapidly becoming a fascist state and a police state.”