On Thursday night, massive crowds gathered in Portland, protesting the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, and other Black people killed by police and racist violence.
The day’s demonstrations began peacefully, but Thursday night ended with the Portland Police Bureau declaring a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly downtown, arresting 12 people.
Thousands of people marched from Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland Thursday evening to Waterfront Park to peacefully rally for several hours. Other groups also gathered in Pioneer Courthouse Square and other spots in downtown Portland.
Later that evening, some people gathered around the Multnomah County Justice Center – around which PPB had erected a chain-link fence. PPB said some people were attempting to climb the fence and objects like water bottles and eggs were thrown at officers.
At around 1:30 a.m., PPB reported a group of people around the Justice Center setting fires, including a dumpster fire. PPB reported the people in this “group of agitators” were drinking alcohol, lighting fireworks and speeding in cars up to 55 miles per hour downtown. One officer was hit with a firework, PPB said.
The agency declared a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly and began dispersing the group, including arresting some speeding drivers. PPB said its officers stopped three vehicles and arrested those drivers.
The Police Bureau said some people began throwing objects at PPB’s sound truck and directing lasers at its driver. The agency said it used its sound truck’s Long Range Acoustic Device “to defend themselves from these criminal and dangerous acts.” The LRAD is primarily used as a communication tool, the bureau said, but the use of sound frequencies can also be used for crowd dispersal.
From around 1:30 a.m. until around 3:30 a.m., PPB arrested 12 people and towed three vehicles, disabling one of those vehicles with spike strips. Shortly after that, the agency said, the remaining group of people dispersed.
“For another night, thousands of peaceful demonstrators were able to demonstrate, march, and express their First Amendment rights in a safe manner,” PPB Chief Jami Resch said. “Several hundred others remained downtown after the primary group left. This group engaged in criminal activities despite repeated warnings to stop. … We will continue to facilitate free speech and assembly and focus efforts on arresting those who engage in criminal activity that reduces our public safety.”