In Eugene, Rioters Destroy Property While Some Activists Urge Peace

May 30, 2020

What started out as a solemn march honoring George Floyd turned into a destructive riot last night in downtown Eugene.

In a video tweeted by Register Guard reporter Adam Duvernay, dumpsters burn at Washington and 7th Avenue late Friday.

Several hundred people - at least 300 according to some bystanders - gathered in the downtown area. 

Early footage showed people peacefully walking down the streets, chanting the name of George Floyd, or "Black Lives Matter". But soon, police began to warn motorists away from an "unruly" crowd who were occupying a lengthy stretch of the city around 11 pm, between the Ferry Street Bridge and Chambers Street, and primarily along 6th and 7th Avenues.  

By midnight, the intersection at Washington and 7th was blocked by a growing bonfire. 

In a video tweeted by Jordyn Brown, rioters line up and start smashing business properties at a small strip off of Washington and 7th Avenue. Some people present urged them to stop.

Demonstrators began dragging several dumpsters, tables, traffic cones, and signs into it, and fireworks were heard exploding at the scene.

Once rioters began smashing windows of several neighborhood businesses, police intervened.  Tear gas was seen billowing out, causing the crowds to largely  disperse. 

Some activists confronted those destroying property, yelling “This is not love!” 

The EPD says a second fire was started on Lawrence subsequently, with a crowd of more than 50 people.

 

“What is happening tonight is not a legitimate, free speech event,” said EPD Chief Chris Skinner. “It is illegal, irresponsible, is destroying local business and city property. It threatens the reputation of other peaceful and lawful events that don’t damage our city and put our residents and guests in harm’s way.”

A burned out dumpster sits in the parking lot next to KLCC's downtown Eugene studio on the corner of 8th and Charnelton.
Credit Linda Maria

 

Some social media observers noted that most of the destruction was carried out by whites, purportedly in the name of black justice.  One person tweeted that black people will “get blamed” for it, while another noted the bonfire was dangerously close to a homeless camp.

Many protests have happened nationwide, to protest Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Derek Chauvin - the now fired Minneapolis Police Department officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck - has been charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter.  Three other officers who were present have not yet been charged or arrested.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.