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A car that attempted to drive through a crowd of pro-Palestinian protesters on the Portland State University campus is seen parked and damaged on a campus walkway on Thursday, May 2, 2024, in Portland, Ore. After the driver fled on foot the protesters damaged the car. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)
AP News
Published: 03 May 2024

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Police said Thursday they detained the driver of a white Toyota Camry who briefly accelerated toward a crowd of pro-Palestinian demonstrators at Portland State University in Oregon and then ran off spraying what appeared to be pepper spray toward protesters who confronted him.

The man was taken to a hospital on a police mental health hold, the Portland Police Bureau said in a written statement late Thursday afternoon. They did not release his name.

People screamed as the vehicle accelerated toward the crowd, but the driver braked before it reached anyone. Demonstrators quickly approached the car and began striking it, and the driver exited and sprinted off while aiming the spray toward those trying to catch him. Police said they found him later and took him into custody.

Demonstrators badly damaged the car, smashing in windows and spray painting graffiti on it.

The incident came hours after Portland police cleared out a library on campus that protesters had occupied since Monday. Officers said they made 22 arrests Thursday.

Tent encampments of protesters calling on universities to stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support the war in Gaza have spread across campuses nationwide. More than 2,000 people have been arrested over the last two weeks at universities across the U.S., according to an Associated Press tally.

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