Police in Portland, Oregon, declared a riot late Sunday night, as what had initially been billed as a "Indigenous Peoples Day of Rage" left multiple statues toppled, and windows broken ahead of Monday's federal "Columbus Day" holiday.
An estimated 200 demonstrators felled sculptures of presidents Teddy Rosevelt — who famously declared "I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are" — and Abraham Lincoln. Across the base of the Lincoln statue, protesters painted "Dakota 38" in reference to the largest mass execution in American history — 38 native peoples who were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota — during Lincoln's first term in office.
Portland has been the site of some of the country's most intense, and long-standing social justice protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past spring.
Five years ago Portland's city council voted unanimously for a resolution to formally recognize the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day, rather than Columbus Day — part of a growing movement to mark the occasion by shifting the focus away from Christopher Columbus and his legacy of slavery and genocide, and toward the native cultures whose presence in North, Central, and South America predated his arrival by thousands of years.
According to The Oregonian newspaper, several protesters were arrested by Portland police, with demonstration organizers seemingly bracing for the possibility of civic unrest, warning participants and onlookers not to film or photograph the protests. During the waves of protests across the country this spring and summer, police reportedly used photographs and footage taken amidst the crowds to identify and arrest participants after the demonstrations had ended.
President Donald Trump, who has long used unrest in Portland as a means to demonize his political opponents and prop up his "law and order" authoritarianism, responded to Sunday night's protests, calling participants "animals" and demanding they be imprisoned "now."
In addition to the toppled statues, protesters also reportedly smashed windows at the Oregon Historical Society, although the society's executive director confirmed to local media that none of the exhibits inside were damaged.