Officials across the country are preparing for this weekend’s round of protests and counterprotests to escalate as demonstrators continue to flood cities three days after a grand jury declined to indict three officers directly connected to Breonna Taylor’s death.
In Portland, Oregon, hundreds of people – dozens of them wearing militarized body armor – gathered for a right-wing rally Saturday organized by the Proud Boys. The group, designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, has frequently clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters in the embattled city since Memorial Day, when the death of George Floyd in police custody prompted protests nationwide.
The group described it as a free speech event to support President Donald Trump and the police, restore law and order and condemn anti-fascists, “domestic terrorism” and “violent gangs of rioting felons” in the streets.
Police said about 450 other people have gathered at a nearby park where local media reported that multiple anti-fascist groups planned to gather in response to the Proud Boys rally.
Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese said police have made three arrests and will maintain a “highly visible presence” to deter criminal activity. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced Friday that she would invoke a state of emergency, sending in state troopers and sheriff’s deputies.
“The pattern of these particular groups is clear: to intimidate, instigate and inflame,” Brown said.
At a “march for equality” in Yorba Linda, California, south of Los Angeles, protesters yelled at counter-protesters holding American and “Trump 2020” flags. According to local news reports and posts to social media, a car drove through the crowd and injured at least one person, who was transported by ambulance, according to a local reporter on the scene.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Police in Kansas City, Missouri, arrested multiple people during clashes between demonstrators and counterprotesters at a pro-Trump truck rally that were caught on camera by a reporter on the scene. Altercations occassionally broke out between counterprotesters holding anti-Trump signs and the thousands driving in cars adorned with red, white and blue and pro-Trump slogans, according to the city’s NPR affiliate.
The Kansas City Missouri Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment.
In Chicago, dozens of people gathered downtown for a “Say Her Name Rally,” where organizers gave pink roses to the Black women there and raised money for organizations led by Black women and girls, according to recordings of the event.
“Do you know what America has done to the Black woman?” said Dr. Niama Malachi, director of a youth development program who spoke at the rally. “Every day we are persecuted, unjustly prosecuted, abused and ridiculed, wrongly accused. And none of us are exempt.”
Groups of protesters gathered again Saturday in Boston, Baltimore and Louisville demanding justice for Taylor with more demonstrations planned across the country. A small group of people gathered outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home in Kentucky earlier Saturday.
Earlier this week, the governors of Missouri and Massachusetts activated the state National Guard in advance of protests planned for the weekend.
Friday night, 22 people were arrested in Louisville after violating a 9 pm. curfew that has been in place since Wednesday. Many were charged with unlawful assembly and failure to disperse, all misdemeanors.
At one point, golf balls were thrown at Louisville protesters leaving the First Unitarian Church where they had gathered as “sanctuary” after curfew.
While demonstrations nationwide on Friday were more peaceful than in past days, there were a few incidents of escalation.
A video shared late Friday on Twitter by the Los Angeles-based activist group People’s City Council showed an officer hitting a protester with a riot shield. Representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
As hundreds of protesters marched through Oakland, some were arrested for what police described as “assaulting” officers by “throwing bottles and other objects” at them, according to a statement Oakland police posted on Twitter.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a car rammed through a crowd of protesters.
“It just went straight into the middle of the crowd and veered off toward the left,” Samantha Colombo, 25, an Albuquerque resident, told USA TODAY. Colombo said that no one they knew of was hurt.
Contributing: Joel Shannon, John Bacon and Jordan Culver, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.