Small Inauguration Day protests in Portland, Seattle lead to about a dozen arrests

N'dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY
·3 min read
A group of protesters shield themselves from chemical irritants as they demonstrate Wednesday evening, Jan. 20, 2021, outside the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Portland, Ore.
A group of protesters shield themselves from chemical irritants as they demonstrate Wednesday evening, Jan. 20, 2021, outside the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building in Portland, Ore.

About a dozen people were arrested during small Inauguration Day protests in the Pacific Northwest intended to pressure President Joe Biden into action on immigration and police reform.

Police in Portland said in a statement they arrested eight Wednesday afternoon on charges of felony criminal mischief, riot and possession of a destructive device after some in a group of 150 people smashed windows and vandalized the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon.

The FBI previously warned of possible armed protests around the inauguration in state capitals by supporters of former President Donald Trump, but these demonstrators were described by local media as "antifascist" and "anarchists."

Demonstrators carried banners that read, "We don't want Biden — we want revenge!'' in response to “police murders” and “imperialist wars," and "We are ungovernable."

The Democratic Party of Oregon said in a statement that none of its staff were in the building and that this is not the first time the building has been targeted.

“We’re frustrated and disappointed about the damage done to our Democratic Party of Oregon Headquarters in Portland this afternoon," the statement said. “None of this should take away from the fact that today is a joyous and momentous day for America as we celebrate the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris."

Hours later, a similar sized group gathered at the Federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement building, some of whom were carrying pepper ball guns, devices like Tasers and fireworks, according to authorities. Portland police said federal law enforcement used crowd control munitions and made arrests.

Video taken by a New York Times reporter at the scene shows the crowd chanting an anti-Joe Biden slogan and later being hit with tear gas. The crowd also decried the United States’ detention and caging of migrant children and chanted, “Abolish ICE," the Oregonian/Oregon Live reported.

Portland saw more than 100 days of demonstrations against racial injustice over the summer, some of which drew thousands and resulted in clashes with police.

Police in Seattle said three people were arrested for property damage, burglary and an assault after a group of about 100 people marched and windows were broken at a federal courthouse.

That crowd also called for the abolition of ICE and several people set fire to an American flag outside the federal immigration court, The Seattle Times reported. One protester told the New York Times that Biden needs to know there will be continued pressure for progress on immigration and police reform.

“I came out here because no matter what happens, Biden and Kamala aren’t enough,” Alejandro Quezada Brom, 28, told the Times.

For weeks over the summer, demonstrators in Seattle occupied an area first called the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone or CHAZ, then the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP. Mayor Jenny Durkan ordered police to clear the zone after an outbreak of violence.

Some of Biden's first executive orders as president were related to immigration. Biden halted construction of the border wall and revoked Trump's 2017 executive order which broadened the categories of undocumented immigrants subject for removal, restarted the Secure Communities program and supported the federal 287(g) deportation program.

Contributing: The Associated Press; Joey Garrison and Courtney Subramanian, USA TODAY

Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Inauguration Day protests in Portland, Seattle; about a dozen arrested