Protesters tore down statues of former presidents Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt late on Sunday night in Portland, Oregon. The demonstration was called the "Indigenous Day of Rage" by organizers, according to local NBC News affiliate KGW. Police classified the gathering as a riot afterward.
Protests in Portland have slowed but never stopped since May 25, when Minneapolis police murdered George Floyd. Political divisions in the city have taken violent shape in the streets, and this weekend some demonstrators went out to oppose Columbus Day and colonialism in general. Portland, Oregon is one of many cities in the U.S. that have now replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, believing that it is not right to celebrate Christopher Columbus due to his violent actions. Still, some onlookers were perplexed when protesters ripped down seemingly unrelated statues.
Sunday night's protest was initially organized by a local group called Generational Resistance, which posted about the event on social media. It is not clear if Generational Resistance members were involved in the property destruction later that night. Some reports have noted that the group's post warned any Native Americans who might be attending that this "might not be the best event to bring things that are sacred to you," however, it's worth noting that it was raining.
However it started, police noted that "vandalism" was beginning around 11:40 p.m., including some people "trying to pull down a statue with a chain." They warned any vandals to cease, or face "citation, arrest and crowd control agents including but not limited to tear gas and impact weapons."
Photos taken later on showed the Lincoln Statue with its head resting on the ground and its feet still attached to its pedestal. Meanwhile, the Roosevelt statue had been pulled over sideways, and the base had been painted orange. In addition, the glass front doors of the Oregon Historical Society were smashed in.
The Radical Left fools in Portland don’t want any help from real Law Enforcement which we will provide instantaneously. Vote! https://t.co/WHvhZpyqAG— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2020
While the culprits have not been identified or found, President Donald Trump tweeted about the protests on Monday, blaming "Radical Left fools." He also offered to send federal authorities in to control the frequent protests in the city. Trump has been highly critical of Portland throughout the summer. In August, he even praised a caravan of counter-protesters who supported him as they traveled from out of state. Their presence reportedly added to the violence in the city, and may have contained some "Proud Boys," whom Trump addressed in the 2020 presidential election debate.