A peaceful protest in Portland, Maine over the death of George Floyd descended into chaos on Monday night, with officers firing pepper spray in an attempt to disperse large crowds.
Multiple businesses were damaged and 23 people were arrested, police said, after the protest began along Commercial Street around 7 p.m.
"As I’ve said before, the City of Portland and the Portland Police Department respects the rights of those who wish to protest," Portland Police Chief Frank Clark said. "We understand and are also disgusted by the recent tragedy. Our goal remains providing a safe environment for those wishing to peacefully express their views and First Amendment rights."
Order wasn't restored to the area until nearly 2 a.m, during which time some protesters began damaging barricades while attempting to damage police vehicles. Several officers had rocks and glass bottles thrown in their direction.
Just after 9 p.m., an Urban Outfitters store at 188 Middle St. was broken into.
A tractor-trailer truck that drove through the group that was gathered in front of the police station just after 9:30 p.m. was stopped just past the intersection of Middle Street and Franklin Arterial by police. The driver and his passenger were being confronted by protesters, but police were able to intercede. The driver was taken into custody when police and the occupants of the truck started to be attacked.
Monday was the fourth day of protests in Portland, according to News Center Maine.
"We are fortunate that no one was seriously injured and that most of the property damage was minimal," Clark continued. "Unfortunately a committed smaller segment of this group ended up making this event anything other than a peaceful and lawful protest. They took the opportunity to commit acts of violence, damage public and private property and place my officers and the public at risk. We will not stand for such criminal behavior."
Protests were also held earlier in the day in Bangor, Maine.
"The only way we’re going to dismantle systemic racism is if we confront our personal racism," said one protester in Bangor.