Portland police crack down fast on protesters Saturday night

By Bradley W. Parks (OPB) and Sergio Olmos (OPB)
Portland, Ore. Sept. 6, 2020 1:22 a.m. Updated: Sept. 6, 2020 6:45 p.m.

A riot declaration — and subsequent tear gas — came down quickly on demonstrators gathered in East Portland for the 100th consecutive day of protests.

Police marked the 100th consecutive day of racial justice protests in Portland the way they marked many of the 99 days before it: with a riot declaration, impact weapons, bull rushes and lots of tear gas.

Portland police declared a riot and began dispersing protesters shortly after 9 p.m. following an evening of speeches at Ventura Park near the police bureau’s East Precinct.


The bureau reported having arrested 59 people. In a Sunday morning press release, police said at least two of those arrested were wearing body armor, and that two were armed — one with a dagger, and another with a knife.

Reports on social media indicate police tried to block demonstrators from leaving the park and marching to the precinct building. In a post to Twitter, police alleged “people are throwing Molotov cocktails.”

Clusters of protesters that did find their way out of the park tried to navigate to the precinct building using residential streets, but were blocked by police, and eventually directed back to the park.

Police often label Portland protests “unlawful assemblies” or “riots,” but the laws governing those declarations have been heavily scrutinized as arbitrarily applied. Saturday’s declaration came almost immediately after a march to the precinct was set to begin.

Police use chemical irritants and crowd control munitions to disperse protesters during a demonstration in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

Police use chemical irritants and crowd control munitions to disperse protesters during a demonstration in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

Noah Berger / AP


Saturday was the 100th consecutive day of Portland protests against police violence and systemic racism, which began after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd.

The protests — which at times have drawn thousands, others many fewer — have grown more chaotic with the injection of raucous crowds of Trump supporters and far-right extremists. Last weekend, a person shot and killed Patriot Prayer supporter Aaron “Jay” Danielson after a pro-Trump caravan drove through the city, an some participants diverted to downtown. Days later, police shot and killed the suspected shooter, Michael Reinoehl.

A group of Oregon and Portland leaders, state lawmakers, businesses, unions and community organizations on Friday urged an end to violence that has marked the past few weeks.

“We are coming together to condemn the acts of violence in Portland that have occurred as thousands of Oregonians have been peacefully protesting,” the group’s statement reads. “The violence must stop. There is no place for white supremacy or vigilantism in Oregon. All who perpetrate violent crimes must be held equally accountable.”

One person notably absent from the list of co-signers was Portland Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who on Saturday released her own statement in support of continuing demonstrations for police reform and racial justice.

“It’s been an exhausting 100 days for our city,” Hardesty wrote. “But may I remind everyone just how exhausting it is to live while Black in America. Let me remind folks that the civil rights movement lasted a lot longer than 100 days and make no mistake — today’s struggle against police violence and creeping fascism is the new civil rights movement.”

Police in Portland this week have continued near-nightly use of tear gas, impact munitions and violent bull rushes to disperse crowds of racial justice demonstrators. At least one encounter on Monday night, in which police tackled and repeatedly punched a volunteer medic, is under investigation. Three people resigned from the 11-member Citizen Review Committee — which serves as a volunteer advisory board to the Independent Police Review — in the next 24 hours, citing “failed leadership” and a “failed system.”

Meanwhile, the war of words between Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and President Donald Trump continues.

Dozens gathered at an elementary school in Portland’s Lents neighborhood late Saturday afternoon for a sit-in that featured several speakers, performances and public art displays. Others gathered at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary in Northeast Portland. More marches and demonstrations were planned downtown later in the evening.

Across the Columbia River in Vancouver, people gathered to memorialize Aaron Danielson. Many spoke, including Joey Gibson, the Patriot Prayer founder recently removed from Facebook, and Chandler Pappas, who was with Danielson the night of the shooting.

Another vehicle caravan called the “Oregon For Trump 2020 Labor Day Cruise Rally” is scheduled for Monday. The Facebook page for the event claims it will not enter Multnomah County.