The Molotov Cocktail isn’t a drink. It’s a bomb, a deadly instrument that can be concocted by anyone with access to glass bottles and gasoline. They’re dangerous and are responsible for much of the destruction and damage we’ve seen throughout the nation during the continuing unrest.
However, it’s important to remember that these are also weapons. They’re just just tools of the arsonist, but destructive devices that can kill.
Which is likely what was on the mind of on Portland protestor Wednesday night.
A rioter threw a Molotov cocktail into a group of police officers, police deployed tear gas and made mass arrests, and civil unrest roiled downtown Portland on Wednesday night, hours after a Kentucky grand jury decided not to charge police who killed Breonna Taylor.
What started as a peaceful demonstration, where a few hundred protesters reflected on Taylor’s death and urged everyone to vote, quickly turned chaotic around 10 pm when the Portland Police Bureau declared a riot. Police said protesters were throwing rocks at the bureau’s Central Precinct, endangering officers inside. Around 10:30 pm, a protester set fire to the plywood that boarded up the building’s windows. (The fire quickly went out on its own.)
What ensued was a familiar sight to a city that has protested racial injustice and police brutality for over 100 days: Police officers clad in riot gear and wielding batons rushed through downtown streets, arresting those who disobeyed orders to disperse. Officers and protesters clashed for hours in smoke and fire.
The lobbing of the Molotov cocktail marked an escalation in clashes between police and protesters. Protesters threw petrol bombs toward police lines earlier this month, but Wednesday marked the first time such a weapon landed amid officers.
The rest of the night followed a pattern: Police officers chased protesters throughout downtown, pushing them down streets with tear gas and pepper balls while protesters threw tear gas canisters back at them and shielded themselves with umbrellas. Repeatedly, the two sides would stand off at an intersection until officers rushed through the streets to arrest protesters who did not disperse.
“You’re proving our point!” a protester yelled at a police officer who tackled another protester to the ground.
I kind of doubt that.
After all, if your group starts tossing incendiary devices at police, don’t be surprised when police don’t ask you nicely to come over for tea and crumpets.
Look, I get that not everyone in the group was responsible for the Molotov cocktails. I understand how that kind of thing goes. However, if you’re in a group and someone starts that stuff, you’ve got two choices. You either hand them over to police or you get the hell out of there. If you opt to stick around, you’ve made yourself culpable for those acts.
Luckily, it doesn’t appear the officers were hurt by the Molotov, but it’s also clear that the individual who threw it is probably rather disappointed by that fact.
This is the world we live in, folks. This is the world some of us seem to prefer for us to live in.