Home News Peace no more! Protesters are back in Portland

Peace no more! Protesters are back in Portland

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The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.

Demonstrators returned to downtown streets Friday to call for police reforms to protect people of color. Federal and local officers repeatedly advanced on the crowd to force people to leave. Portland police said people had been throwing things at federal officers.

The protests continued for more than 101 days before smoke from wildfires stalled the nightly demonstrations earlier this month. Friday was the first late-night protest in more than a week. It was also the first since Mayor Ted Wheeler barred Portland police from unleashing tear gas on demonstrators and people who live nearby.

Yet social media was still filled with reports of tear gas Friday night. Multiple independent reporters said federal officers deployed gas as they forced the crowd away from a South Portland Immigrations and Customs Enforcement building.

Federal officials have not yet confirmed the reports. Live videos from the scene showed officers release irritants into the air that dispersed large green, orange or white plumes. Federal officers also used shot impact munitions toward the crowd and appeared to detain at least one person.

Portland police said local officers arrested 11 people, mostly charges of disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has said his office will not pursue criminal cases against protesters charged on non-violent offenses such as interfering. That has drawn scorn from federal officials, who have aggressively pursued charges in federal court.

Protesters often chant a four-point list of demands at the late-night gatherings, which started in late May after the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man.

The four demands in Portland: cut at least 50% from the police budget, move that money to community causes, grant protesters amnesty from criminal prosecution and — in a demand specific to Wheeler — resign.

After protesters chant the demand, a leader shouts, “’Cuz whose lives matter?”

“Black lives matter!” the crowd responds.

Friday’s demonstration started like many before it, with a march from a city park to the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement building. Marchers arrived around 9 p.m., according to multiple live videos shared on social media.

The videos showed Department of Homeland Security officers awaiting the crowd behind a locked gate. Some protesters wandered close to the gate, but most stood at the edge of the driveway or in Bancroft Street. Federal officials used a loudspeaker to warn people not to damage the building.

It appeared that one person in the crowd had damaged a parking badge reader, the videos showed.

Federal officers emerged just before 9:30 p.m. to clear protesters out of the driveway. Officers forced people to move by shooting impact munitions and setting off some type of irritant into the air. Federal officers blocked the path back to the building for several minutes and the two sides faced off.

Residents of the high-rise buildings that line the waterfront neighborhood looked down at the scene below.

Portland police used a nearby loudspeaker to declare the gathering an unlawful assembly and order people to leave around 9:40 p.m. Federal officers eventually retreated, and protesters returned to the federal building.

Federal police soon advanced again, shooting impact munitions and making another defensive stand a block away from the building. Demonstrators staged a half-block away, chanting “Black lives matter!” Officers intermittently shot impact munitions and irritants toward the crowd. The back-and-forth pattern repeated itself throughout the night.

Around 10:30 p.m., Portland police arrived on the ground and stayed on the scene as federal officers retreated. A Portland police used a loudspeaker to warn people they could be arrested or subjected to “crowd control agents.”

Many officers left around 11 p.m. and boarded vehicles that circled the neighborhood.

Many protesters made their way back to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement building by 11:20 p.m. Federal officers eventually emerged once more to clear out protesters. Multiple live videos showed federal officers detaining at least one person as they forced the crowd away just before midnight. Officers had mostly left by 12:45 a.m.

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