The sharp smell and sting of tear gas spread across several blocks of downtown Portland as protesters and police clashed in Pioneer Courthouse Square on the evening of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The winter night was marked with heavy rainfall, and dramatic eruptions between defiant protesters and a Portland police force under the direction of a new mayor.
Saturday afternoon crowds could swell to more than 35,000 for the Women’s March on Portland. The event is one of 20 sister marches across the state and is in unison with demonstrations in all 50 states and cities across the globe.
Here’s what we’re watching as the weekend of demonstrations in Oregon’s largest city continue.
The Aftermath Of Friday Night’s Explosive Protest
After an evening of protests Friday, Portland police used crowd-control devices to disperse lingering demonstrators near Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Thousands had marched through downtown playing instruments, carrying signs and puppets, and chanting “Not My President.” Police deployed tear gas first to stop protesters from crossing the Burnside bridge, and the protest remained confined to Portland’s west side.
The use of flash-bangs and tear gas came after police told protesters that the march, which began at 5 p.m., was unlawful. Police warned the group that those who did not leave the area would be arrested. By 9:30 p.m., police said the crowds had largely dispersed.
The protest disrupted MAX train traffic in downtown for a good portion of the evening. TriMet had said it would only alter its service if the area became “unsafe.”
To mitigate potential damage, several businesses downtown, including Nike, Banana Republic and Nordstrom, boarded up windows in anticipation of the protest. But the protesters caused minimal damage.
By the end of the night, five people were charged with second-degree disorderly conduct.
Portland Women’s March
The Women’s March On Portland is one demonstration in a global event that organizers estimate could total more than 2 million people. Although sparked by the election Donald Trump, one of the organizers Margaret Jacobsen explained to “Think Out Loud,” the intent of the Portland march is larger than the country’s new president.
“We really have to think of Muslim women, and we have to think of immigrant mothers being taken away from their children if they’re deported,” she said. “There’s so many other issues that we have to think of that isn’t just our reproductive rights, and so I think that all of those intersect and we’re all affected by them.”
Safety Questions Loom
Unlike Friday’s protests in Portland against Donald Trump, the planned Women’s March has filed for permits with the Portland Police and will follow a designated route.
Though some news reports have suggested divisions among Women’s March organizers — both locally and nationally — backers of the Portland march said they expect nothing but peaceful demonstration.
“I don’t believe that bringing different narratives and experiences makes us divided. I think it makes us uncomfortable,”Jacobsen said. “We aren’t all the same. That’s just how it goes. We aren’t equal. We don’t live equally. We don’t have equal rights yet. That’s the whole point of marching.”
It’s likely the march will make traveling through downtown Portland very challenging Saturday afternoon, but don’t expect the event to end in tear gas and pepper spray like Friday’s protests.