The Portland police will take down the outer fencing around the Multnomah County Justice Center, which for over a week had served as the demarcation line between protesters and police.
The chain-link fence was a barrier between thousands who approached the Justice Center each night demanding an end to police brutality and police officers in riot gear who stood guard over the building.
On the first night of large-scale protesting in Portland, demonstrators smashed the glass entryway and lit fires inside the first floor. City officials said, afterward, the fencing was necessary to protect the roughly 250 people jailed inside. According to the bureau, the inner fence that surrounds the building will remain in place.
But the outer one will be dismantled — which the bureau says they hope will show their “willingness to have dialog and peaceful communication.”
“Our hope is that the nightly violence and destruction around the justice center will stop and the focus can be directed toward peaceful conversation,” the bureau said in a statement posted on Twitter.
In the weeks since the fence was erected, police have reported protesters hurling objects over it, including but not limited to, beverages, glass bottles, and rocks. Sometimes, these objects would be ignored. Other times, they would trigger a large scale police response with tear gas, flash bangs, and smoke.
Recently, protesters had begun cutting out panels of the fencing and popping through it. This weekend, one demonstrator crawled through the fence and once inside the perimeter, mooned police officers.
A clear line between protesters and police, the chain-link fence has taken an outsized meaning to the thousands of demonstrators that flock onto the street each night. It’s spawned multiple Twitter accounts, including one that’s attracted over 6,000 followers. That account appeared disappointed to receive the news of its demise.
“Oh wow. No phone call. No exit interview,” tweeted @portlandfence. “Just firing me on Twitter.”