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The nation in brief

by Compiled by Democrat-Gazette staff from wire reports | May 27, 2021 at 3:50 a.m.

1 Floyd rally calm, other turns violent

PORTLAND, Ore. — Five people were arrested as two crowds gathered in Portland to mark the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd — one peacefully singing, chanting and carrying signs while the other gathered downtown, prepared for conflict, lighting fires, breaking windows and throwing objects at officers, police said Wednesday.

The downtown crowd included people wearing helmets and carrying gas masks, backpacks and tote bags. Some pushed a trash bin against the Multnomah County Justice Center and lit it on fire, while many others held umbrellas up to obscure their actions as some chanted to burn the building down, police said in a statement.

Police declared the gathering unlawful and moved in to create space for firefighters to put out the trash bin fire. People in the crowd responded by throwing frozen water bottles, glass bottles, eggs and metal spikes at officers, while also firing mortar-style fireworks at police, the statement said.

Once the fire was out and firefighters could get safely away, police backed off; then the crowd moved through downtown, breaking windows at City Hall and in some downtown businesses, lighting fires in trash cans and fighting amongst themselves, police said. Officers “made targeted arrests,” naming five people on charges including criminal mischief.

People protested in Portland on more than 100 days last year after Floyd’s May 2020 killing sparked national rallies against racial injustice and police brutality.

4 crewmen killed in crash of fire copter

LEESBURG, Fla. — A firefighting helicopter carrying four people on a training exercise crashed near an airport in central Florida, killing all aboard, officials said.

The Sikorsky UH-60 helicopter, also known as a Black Hawk, crashed into a marsh near Leesburg International Airport around 4 p.m. Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a news release.

One body was recovered Tuesday night, the Leesburg fire agency said in a Facebook post. On Wednesday afternoon, officials confirmed that the three other people in the helicopter also had died. Officials did not release the names of the four people who were killed, but said that they were all men.

At the time of the crash, the helicopter was conducting a test flight for a “new bucket water release system,” said Eric Weiss, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board, citing preliminary reports on the accident.

The aircraft belonged to Brainerd Helicopters Inc./Fire-hawk Helicopters, police said.

Louisiana gas-well fire injures 7 workers

PATTERSON, La. — At least seven people were injured when an abandoned natural gas well in a coastal Louisiana marsh caught fire while they were trying to control it, news outlets report.

The owners said Wednesday that the fire was out within two hours after it started Tuesday, and the flow of gas was minimal.

“Additional well control personnel are on the scene to develop a plan to secure and plug the well and protect the environment,” Texas Petroleum Investment Co. of Houston said in a brief statement.

The gas well, about about 18 miles south of Patterson, blew out Sunday while a crew was trying to plug it, the company said. It said the fire started while contractors were trying to get the well under control.

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed that Wild Well Control of Houston personnel were on site Tuesday when the well exploded into flame, KLFY-TV reported.

Four people were evacuated for treatment, Texas Petroleum Investment said. Three others drove themselves to a hospital.

Oklahoma AG quits; cites private ‘issue’

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter on Wednesday announced his resignation, citing “certain personal matters that are becoming public.” In a statement released by his office, the 64-year-old Republican said he plans to step down Tuesday. In the statement, Hunter expressed concern that his personal issues could overshadow the work of his office.

“Regrettably, certain personal matters that are becoming public will become a distraction for this office,” Hunter said. “The office of attorney general is one of the most important positions in state government. I cannot allow a personal issue to overshadow the vital work the attorneys, agents and support staff do on behalf of Oklahoma.” Although the statement did not describe the personal matter, Hunter filed for divorce from his wife, Cheryl, on Friday. The couple has been married for nearly 40 years and have two children.

Hunter was appointed to the post in 2017 by then-Gov. Mary Fallin after Scott Pruitt, who was attorney general at the time, was tapped to head the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Hunter narrowly defeated Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond in a bruising GOP primary in 2018, winning by fewer than 300 votes, before coasting to an easy victory in the general election.

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