Portland Police officers were injured and police cars sustained thousands of dollars worth of damage during a demonstration Friday night.
Portland Police report that a crowd of 150-200 people gathered at Irving Park at 707 Northeast Fremont Street and began marching around 9:30p.m., blocking traffic. In the march, many individuals wore protective gear including helmets, eye protection, gas masks, and body armor. Some carried homemade wooden shields.
Officers placed unoccupied police vehicles parked on Northeast Emerson Street on the southwest side of the precinct and yellow police line tape across the road. That was done with the intention of keeping the crowd away from the building. In past protests there have been attempts to commit arson and burn the occupied building. A police loudspeaker provided warnings to the crowd not to enter city property and on the closed area of Northeast Emerson Street.
Almost immediately the officers were targeted by thrown bottles, eggs, and green lasers toward their eyes. The lasers are powerful enough that they're capable of causing serious, permanent eye damage. The police sound truck issued further warnings, notifying the crowd that officers have observed people in the area of North Precinct throwing projectiles and pointing lasers at officers. Anyone who is involved in criminal behavior including throwing projectiles and/or laser pointing, is subject to arrest, citation and/or use of force, including, but not limited to, crowd control agents and impact weapons.
Despite warnings, individuals in the crowd continued throwing things. Officers tried to retreat out of sight to attempt to deescalate. Over the next three hours, individuals in the crowd pelted the police vehicles with softball-sized rocks, glass bottles, golf balls, ball bearings, metal railroad spikes, and plastic eggs filled with paint. There were also balloons filled with feces thrown on the cars and even a torn up street sign was used to vandalize the marked police cars. Windows were broken and tires were deflated.
However, because the risk did not involve life safety, and in an attempt to deescalate and avoid the need to use of force, officers remained far back (photo). Eventually some individuals encroached past the closure area. Targeted, selective arrests were made. Some limited crowd control munitions were deployed, including inert smoke canisters. After the arrests and munitions were deployed, the officers again retreated attempting to deescalate.
Officers in the sound truck used their loudspeaker to warn the group to back off the city property, keep the demonstration peaceful, and the ask crowd to police itself. However, individuals within the group continued to increase their attacks in an attempt to goad the officers into responding. Individuals were seen using lacrosse sticks to launch rocks a greater distance. At least two officers were struck with rocks despite their safety buffer. A ball bearing struck the loudspeaker truck almost a full block away. A van parked in front of the neighboring Boys and Girls Club had a window broken by what is believed to be a golf ball.
Numerous people with "press" markings encroached on the closed area. One person with "press" written on their garments deflated another police vehicle tire. The sound truck made an announcement that Portland Police appreciates them being here to observe and report. They were told that that if they were there as press or a legal observer, they must also move off Northeast Emerson Street and the sidewalks to the north and south of Northeast Emerson Street. Failure to comply with this order may subject them to arrest, citation, and/or use of force, including, but not limited to, crowd control agents and impact weapons.
The group continue to escalate. A fire was lit in the middle of Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard and was fed with plastic recycling bins, newspaper boxes, and various other debris. A dumpster was pushed into the fire.
Finally, at 1:07a.m., due to the persistent and ongoing criminal acts, the PPB sound truck issued a warning that the event was being declared an unlawful assembly and that all community members in the area should leave to the south. Officers moved up to physically move the crowd. Almost immediately the officers were pelted with objects including rocks. At 1:10a.m., a riot was declared. More warnings were given. Officers moved the crowd to the south. One vehicle tried to run over some officers, but was unsuccessful in injuring them. An officer was injured when she was struck by a rock that had been thrown. Green lasers targeted the PPB Air Unit.
Officers moved the crowd several blocks and retreated, but many returned. Officers initiated another push and the crowd eventually dispersed except for a few people who remained. One was shot with a sponge-tipped less-lethal round after he was seen throwing rocks at officers. He was subsequently provided with medical treatment and arrested.
One officer suffered a laceration to her leg by a thrown rock that hit her. Another officer's ankle was sprained. Others suffered various bumps and bruises.
Various crowd control munitions were used, but no CS gas was deployed.
Nine people were arrested.