Hours after it was revealed Monday that 56 Portland police officers will remain federal deputies at least through the end of the year, officers with the Portland Police Bureau executed a show of force against protesters for racial justice.
It was the 113th night of such demonstrations in the city, and officers attempted to break up the gathering before it started.
Around 9 p.m. Monday night, approximately 30 to 50 police officers arrived at North Portland’s Kenton Park prior to a planned march by protesters. Police roamed through a crowd of approximately 150 people, looking for shields and signs.
Police ordered one person to surrender a sign that read “register to vote here.” The man refused to give his sign away and when police tried to pull it from him, officers maced and arrested him.
Police try to take away a protest sign, the protester refuses, police mace and arrest him. pic.twitter.com/CtfN53wrMh— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) September 29, 2020
The unusual move was a departure from past nights' demonstrations when police have often gathered at the site of the protest and waited for what they perceive to be unlawful activity before they intervene.
Police did not declare an unlawful assembly at the park, however. According to a statement by police, “The posture of the gathering suggested that it would become violent.”
A protester asked one officer why the police were there. “We’re just taking a walk, a nice stroll through the park,” the officer said in reply.
Protesters did eventually march to the Portland Police Association building in North Portland, where police declared the sidewalk “closed.” Police arrested multiple people for standing on the sidewalk outside the building. Over the course of the night, 24 people were arrested. Almost all of those people were charged with disorderly conduct or interfering with a police officer, both misdemeanors.
A homeowner asks a Portland police officer how do these protest end— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) September 29, 2020
Police officer responds “if people liked our trump government a lot more, we probably wouldn’t have this issue in the first place” pic.twitter.com/iHBtdTtkZJ
Valerie Carey, a resident in the area who has been tear-gassed while at home, asked two police officers what it would take for the protest to end.
One police officer, who could not be readily identified by name due to a police policy that allows officers to replace their names with numbers, said to Carey, “It’s gotta be citizen and political will.”
“Is there a way we can take you guys out from having to be in this position?” Carey responded.
A second officer responded: “If they weren’t out here, we wouldn’t have to be out here. If our people liked our Trump government a lot more, we probably wouldn’t have this issue in the first place.”
“We know it’s gonna run all the way until at least the election. This could run all the way to inauguration,” the officer said.
“Well, it could run all the way until cops stop killing Black people,” Carey replied.
“Well, true,” the officer said.
“I mean, when’s the last time in Portland, you know?” the second police officer responded.
In 2019, a Portland police officer shot and killed Andre Gladen, a Black man who family members say was experiencing a mental health crisis. The Oregonian/OregonLive recently reviewed police shootings since the pivotal 2003 shooting of Kendra James, and found Portland police disproportionately shoot and kill Black people when they use lethal force.
Police declared an unlawful assembly Monday just before midnight. Officers warned protesters that they were subject to the use of tear gas, though Mayor Ted Wheeler has banned Portland police from using CS gas, the official name of the weapon.
Police announce they are aware of TRO regarding press and will abide by the restraining order— Sergio Olmos (@MrOlmos) September 29, 2020
Police have also given a tear gas warning, even though the mayor has banned Portland police from using tear gas pic.twitter.com/KXPVZXbb53
In a press release, police said state law requires the term “tear gas” to be used when giving use of force warnings that include OC munitions, more commonly known as pepper balls.
According to the police, “A sergeant was punched in the face and was transported to the hospital for treatment.” PPB also said five officers were sprayed with “some type of chemical.” OPB did not observe protesters using chemical weapons on officers but did witness some officers being affected by mace deployed from fellow officers against protesters.