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 was still in progress at 1:30 a.m., May 30.