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This “is not a legitimate, free speech event,” Oregon Police Chief calls protests illegal after they turn destructive

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Update at 2:23 a.m.

EPD has deployed SWAT, assisted by Springfield Police and Lane County Sheriff’s Office due to businesses at the 7th and Washington complex, including Five Guys, Jimmy Johns, T-Mobile and Starbucks being destroyed, with the windows broken out. Looters entered Starbucks.  EPD also had reports of subjects inside of Buy 2 at 110 W. Broadway, as well as looting at Hunky Dory, and shattered glass at Fire Horse. At 2:13 a.m., EPD deployed gas to push the crowds out and try to get rioters to disperse.   

Update: businesses at the 7th and Washington complex, including Five Guys, Jimmy Johns, T-Mobile and Starbucks have been destroyed, with the windows broken out. Looters entered Starbucks.

On May 29 at around 8:10 p.m. police were advised of small group gathering for a protest at the Lane County Courthouse Building, 7th and Oak, related to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The crowd was initially peaceful.

Shortly before 9 p.m., the crowd began to move and at 10th and Olive gained in size to about 200 individuals. The gathering morphed into acts of vandalism, illegal burning,  damage to buildings, businesses, and city property. During the crowd’s movement around the Eugene Downtown area, the activity began to escalate and there was a heavy amount of vandalism including spray painting of LTD buses, aerial fireworks thrown into the Lane County Jail building, the independent Police Auditor’s office was vandalized, bottles were thrown, traffic blocked, and fireworks thrown at parked vehicles, and local business and city property was destroyed. There was a very large bonfire with flames 20 feet into the air at the Starbucks and Jimmy Johns parking lot at 7th and Washington.

To prioritize life before property, Eugene Police avoided escalating the situation by moving in, instead monitoring for safety. However, at Five Guys, Starbucks and Jimmy Johns, around 12:30 a.m. on May 30, the situation reached a stage that required police move in to stop the situation from becoming more dangerous as windows to the local business were broken out and concern mounted regarding the potential for fires spreading inside the businesses and looting. Announcements were made to allow people to leave before gas was deployed at 12:40 a.m. A second fire was started on Lawrence subsequently, with a crowd of more than 50.

“What is happening tonight is not a legitimate, free speech event,” said Eugene Police 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.”

The incident is still in progress.

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