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Curfew In Place in Response To Friday’s Violence in Eugene

The City of Eugene has implemented a curfew for tonight and Sunday for the downtown area. This after a march to protest the killing of George Floyd turned to a destructive riot with people setting fires and destroying property.

Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said the events of Friday night and early Saturday morning caught the department a little off guard. He said they will be better prepared and staffed if something similar happens tonight or Sunday.

Credit Eugene Police
Broken out windows at one of several businesses in downtown Eugene. Rioters used Peacehealth rideshare bikes to smash the glass.

“And I have a very, very strong commitment to strategies that intervene a little bit earlier in the process when we start to see criminal behavior going in a certain direction, we need to insert ourselves sooner and we will be doing that.”

Eugene City Manager Pro Team Sarah Medary announced the curfew Saturday evening.

“The intent is not to impede the lawful rights of people to assemble or protest,” said Medary. “This is about protecting the safety of our community. Last night, individuals took advantage of a peaceful protest in response to the death of George Floyd, to inflict damage and destruction on our community. That’s not acceptable. The City fully supports the rights of the protesters and free speech, we do not support illegal behavior that puts our local businesses and community members in harm’s way.”

Fire burning at 7th and Washington in Eugene early Saturday morning. From a twitter post by Adam Duvernay of the Register Guard.

The curfew is from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday into Sunday morning. It applies from High Street to Monroe and from 13th Avenue to 4th Avenue in Eugene. UPDATE: the city extended the curfew citywide at midnight.

Meanwhile, Chief Skinner said they are reviewing the events of Friday night and may make arrests.

"We are going to do an investigation, and where we can identify people and tie them to specific crimes.” Skinner said, “We’re going to come back and do that good investigation and we’ll make those arrests where appropriate."

Organizers of a Black Lives Matter march for Sunday afternoon in Eugene said they had nothing to do with the violence and destruction that took place overnight Friday in downtown Eugene.

In an emailed statement, organizer Madeleine Smith said,

“I saw first hand what happened and would like to comment that the majority of people who were breaking, burning and overall destroying property were primarily white. I feel that some of those people were using the deaths of unarmed black people as an excuse to be destructive."

Sunday’s march starts at 1 p.m. at the Eugene Federal Building in Eugene. Participants are encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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