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EUGENE, Ore. – A man was arrested after a protest turned destructive outside the Lane County Jail on Wednesday, the sheriff’s office said.
More than 100 people gathered at the site shortly after 9 p.m., for an organized protest in support of an inmate on a hunger strike over a reported lack of coronavirus precautions. Capt. Clint Riley, however, said the jail has taken steps to ensure the inmates' safety.
The sheriff’s office said the protesters set off fireworks and took over 5th Avenue near the jail. Protesters reportedly moved to the back of the jail next to the railroad tracks.
Protesters threw lit fireworks into the parking area and tore down sections of chain link fence around the jail, the sheriff’s office said. Protesters got into the secure parking area and broke car windows and spray painted a vehicle.
Deputies used pepper ball to regain control of the area, they said.
"We are saddened at the destruction that has occurred, and the danger that this event created. We are absolutely supportive of peaceful protests and having a dialogue about how things can be improved, but that's not what this was. This was a riot, and it took significant resources away from calls for service from community members (not involved in the riot) needing emergency law enforcement response," said Sheriff Cliff Harrold.
Noah Whiteworlf, 28, of Eugene, was taken into custody at the scene for destruction of multiple vehicles. The sheriff’s office said not all of the damage is attributed to him.
Whitewolf faces charges of assaulting a public safety officer, first-degree criminal mischief and rioting, all felonies.
As Whitewolf was being taken into custody, rioters lit the American flag on fire for the second time this week, the sheriff’s office said.
A deputy was injured during the events Wednesday night. The extent of the injuries is not yet known.
The investigation is ongoing.
The sign in front of the jail was vandalized in the riot. The center is dedicated to Richard Sherman, who was an advocate for inmates suffering from mental health issues and addiction.