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Protesters storm Portland City Hall, injuring guards; arrests made (Whining because they didn't get their way)

A protest against police brutality itself turned violent Wednesday when activists attempted to storm Portland City Hall, clobbered one security guard and scuffled with several others.

It was the biggest disruption to a Portland City Council meeting in more than a year, but the Council did not address the substance of protesters' ire: violent crowd control techniques used by police during a large counter-demonstration downtown Saturday.

Some of those who say they were injured by officers dressed in military gear and wielding batons or non-lethal munitions were on scene Wednesday, trying to speak with city officials.

Amid an outcry over the police response to a Saturday protest that drew hundreds to downtown Portland, the city's police chief says officers succeeded because they prevented violence from breaking out between dueling demonstrators.

One demonstrator, who was masked and wearing a baseball helmet, smashed a security guard over the head repeatedly with a megaphone. The guard was seen afterward clutching a bag of ice, a bruise beginning to form on his cheek.

City Hall security chief Dorothy Elmore said she was also struck by a protester, in the arm.

An unidentified man, bandana-clad and lying on the floor outside the mayor's office, was detained and carried out of City Hall by his arms and legs. Cops also arrested Diane Keeauver, 67, said Sgt. Chris Burley, a Portland police spokesman.

Each face second-degree trespassing charges, Burley said.

The demonstration started on a less rowdy note. A few dozen protesters converged near City Hall's east portico beginning around 9:30 a.m. to rail against police brutality after riot cops injured multiple people at Saturday's downtown protests.

Among them were those who say they were physically harmed by officers as police attempted to clear the rally against the right-wing group Patriot Prayer.

"I should be home recovering from the pain and trauma I'm suffering. But I'm also suffering from complete outrage and powerlessness," said Michelle Fawcett, who lives in Portland.

Fawcett, 52, sustained third-degree chemical burns after she was struck by a flash-bang grenade fired by police at counter-demonstrators. The non-lethal munition is meant to deliver a jarring blast of noise and light that can disperse crowds of people.

Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw on Monday said the bureau had temporarily suspended the use of the flash-bang projectiles, which she and other department officials refer to as aerial distraction devices, until it can be determined if they are working properly.

At least three people, including Fawcett, were hospitalized Saturday, according to activists and counter-protest organizers. Others who came to City Hall said they sustained less serious wounds.

Leo Lacroix said he was injured when a non-lethal projectile fired by police grazed his head. He showed a reporter photos of his bloodied forehead and a scab from the small wound.

"I'd like to know why I was shot in the head by the cops," said Lacroix, 28.

The morning council meeting began with little disruption. But a man was escorted out after swearing at council members and then people in the audience broke out into chants of "end police brutality."

Mayor Ted Wheeler admonished attendees to stop chanting. They did not, and he recessed the meeting.

Wheeler and the commissioners reconvened in a conference room outside the mayor's office. None were allowed in except city staff, the press and people called to testify on council business.

Wheeler had not made the council convene in such a semi-private manner since last spring, when council meetings where regularly disrupted by protests over the fatal shooting black teen Quanice Hayes.

Commissioner carried on through their agenda despite muffled chants of "shame on you" from protesters outside.

"What's happening downstairs?" Commissioner Amanda Fritz asked during a break between hearings.

"Well, there's actually a gentleman laying on the floor right outside," replied Matt Grumm, chief of staff to Commissioner Dan Saltzman.

Grumm turned to Commissioner Nick Fish: "Jumped on an e-scooter yet?"

Fish replied that he had not, but that they "seem to be everywhere."

Though the meeting went on in ho-hum fashion, with discussions of property liens, eminent domain and parks bonds, the atmosphere outside was anything but.

As tensions rose, security blocked dozens of demonstrators as they tried enter City Hall near the Happy Cup Coffee kiosk. Some carried placards showing images of the bloody wounds and gashes caused by crowd-control munitions fired by Portland police over the weekend.

"Come down Wheeler!" the crowd chanted between verbal barbs and invective hurled at security as well several police officers who appeared in the atrium.

"It's our f------ building," one demonstrator screamed.

But police threatened the protesters with arrest if they did not leave the building immediately. Another protester grabbed a glass sugar urn from the coffee stand and smashed it on the floor.

A wall of security personnel then began to move against the demonstrators, slowly forcing them out the front doors.

Several security guards tangled with activists, including the guard who was bashed on the head, while the crowd shouted "Shame on you!"

Lacroix, the protester injured Saturday, had hoped to address the City Council about his injury. He was unable to because the mayor and commissioners were meeting behind closed doors.

"I think they're cowards," Lacroix said. "I think this is really sad."

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