Peaceful Demonstration In Portland Ends In Violence


Photo: KATU

On Friday, two organized groups of demonstrators gathered in Portland. One group gathered in Chapman Square in Downtown Portland and the other gathered at Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland.

Several thousand demonstrators marched from Revolution Hall, over the Hawthorne Bridge, to Waterfront Park. Once the demonstrators arrived at Waterfront Park, they peacefully rallied for several hours. After the demonstration, the majority of the group departed from Waterfront Park and peacefully marched back to Revolution Hall.

The group in Chapman Square were non-violent and joined by Mayor Wheeler. After Mayor Wheeler concluded his speech, several demonstrators remained in the parks and eventually gathered on Southwest 3rd Avenue from SW Madison Street to SW Main Street.

For several hours, the event on SW 3rd Avenue stayed non-violent. Occasionally, demonstrators would try to shake and climb the fence. Water bottles, beer cans, bananas, and other projectiles began to be thrown at officers. The crowd was admonished many times, warning them to stay off the fence, not throw projectiles at officers, and to keep things non-violent.

At about 10:00 p.m. the projectiles thrown at officers became more dangerous to life safety. Agitators were using sling shots to directly aim at officers. Bricks, glass bottles, fireworks, some frozen water bottles, sharp blades, ball bearings, mortars, batteries, and other projectiles were being thrown at officers. Lasers were being directed at the officers in their eyes. One of the projectiles that was thrown at the officers was an improvised explosive that landed right by an officer's feet (photo). The fuse burned out and the item did not explode.

At about 11:00 p.m. a civil disturbance and an unlawful assembly were declared. The group was admonished to leave the area and warned that if they did not leave they would be subject to arrest and or force, including crowd control munitions.

Demonstrators continued to shake the fence and eventually knocked it down. Multnomah County Sheriff's Office Deputies stopped the agitators from advancing with crowd control munitions.

Projectiles continued to be launched at officers, including: fireworks, glass bottles, cans of food and full beverages, and bricks. The park was closed and orders to disperse to the south and vacate the downtown area were given. Media was notified about the danger in the area and for their safety were encouraged to leave the area.

From about 11:30 p.m. to 2:00 a.m., an unlawful assembly was declared and orders for dispersal were given. Officers started clearing the area to disperse the crowd.

A vehicle was in the crowd in what appeared to be a support role for the crowd members. As the crowd dispersed, the driver of the vehicle started driving in a very reckless manner to leave the area and nearly struck several members of the crowd near Southwest Jefferson Street and Southwest 10th Avenue. Officers were able to intervene and safely stop the vehicle.

Officers made 20 adult arrests and 1 juvenile was detained. Updated information about those arrested and the charges will be provided in an update when available.

"Thousands have expressed their first amendment rights without violence, vandalism, or destruction," said Chief Jami Resch. "Tonight's events revealed an escalation in focus, violence, and weaponry directed at public safety officials. Lives were at risk; our officers deserve better than to be pelted with incendiary devices, batteries, glass bottles, sling shot projectiles, and bricks to name a few. Fortunately, demonstrators, media, and public safety officers have not experienced serious physical injuries in the past week, despite the dangerous life safety risks we have witnessed. PPB members continue to evaluate the best resource options and strategies to achieve our number one priority for all events, which is life safety, along with the reduction of serious injury for all."