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George Floyd protests in Portland, Oregon

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George Floyd protests in Portland, Oregon
Part of George Floyd protests
Portland Protests June 2, 2020.jpg
Protesters staging a die-in on Portland, Oregon's Burnside Bridge on June 2, 2020
DateMay 28, 2020–present (1 month and 2 weeks)
Location
Portland, Oregon, United States
StatusOngoing

Portland, Oregon has seen a series of George Floyd protests. The city was the first in the United States to see a "riot" over the killing of George Floyd, as declared by the Portland Police Bureau (PPB). Portland has seen arson, looting, and vandalism, and two officers have been injured since the demonstrations began on May 28, 2020. Approximately 100 people have been arrested, as of June 2.[1] Local businesses have reported losses totaling millions of dollars as the result of vandalism and looting, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.[2]

Background

Demonstrations

May 28–29

Boarded windows in downtown Portland on May 31, 2020, following a series of demonstrations
Boarded windows at a Rite Aid in Portland's Pearl District

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on May 28, at one point blocking the entrance to the Multnomah County Justice Center.[3] There were two peaceful demonstrations held on May 29.[4] A "Eulogy for Black America" was organized by the Portland chapter of NAACP at Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown Portland, and a vigil was organized by the PNW Youth Liberation Front at Peninsula Park, in the north Portland part of the Piedmont neighborhood.[5][6]

Crowd estimates for the demonstration at Terry Schrunk Plaza ranged from a "hundred or so" to "hundreds" of people; the event included several speakers including Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.[3][7] She was reportedly "visibly overcome by emotion" and said, "This is the reality of being black in America. Over and over and over again, black people have been killed, and there has been silence from the majority community....Black people are tired. Black people are exhausted by racism."[3] The president of the NAACP chapter, Reverend E.D. Mondainé, also spoke.[7]

More than 1,000 people gathered at Peninsula Park,[8][9] where ministers and Black Panthers spoke against police brutality.[5] From the crowd, hundreds marched to downtown Portland via Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and the Burnside Bridge.[10][11] Along the way, some people started breaking windows, tagging buildings with graffiti, looting, and setting vehicles and buildings on fire.[12] A riot ensued, prompting mayor Ted Wheeler to declare a state of emergency.[13] A fire was started inside the Multnomah County Justice Center.[14][15] Pioneer Place and other storefronts saw looting.[11][16][17][18] The riot lasted for approximately 5 hours;[19] two officers were injured,[20] and 13 people were arrested.[21] The Portland Business Alliance estimated the riot cost local businesses "tens of millions" of dollars because of property damage, looting, and lost wages.[12]

May 30–31

On May 30, Rev. Mondainé posted a video online urging protesters to stay home and calling looting and violence counterproductive.[22] Demonstrators gathered in downtown Portland again; crowd estimates ranged from hundreds to a thousand.[23][24] One group attempted to break into the Lloyd Center; riot police broke up a group of approximately 200 people outside the shopping mall.[24] Police had arrested 16 people by 11 pm.[25] At least 51 demonstrators were arrested during the night, bringing the total number of arrests to date to 64.[26]

External video
Portland Police take a knee with protesters on YouTube (The Oregonian)
Protest at Laurelhurst Park over the death of George Floyd on YouTube (The Oregonian)
Protesters march through Southeast Portland on YouTube (The Oregonian)

On May 31, police officers took a knee alongside protesters.[27] In the afternoon, a crowd assembled at the intersection of Southwest 3rd Avenue and Main Street in downtown. Police called the gathering "a civil disturbance and unlawful assembly and ordered protesters to leave", and said projectiles were thrown at officers.[28] Police did not intervene as the group marched from the Multnomah County Justice Center to Pioneer Courthouse Square and back. The Pearl District Neighborhood Association was "advised of potential protest activity" in the Pearl District and the Northwest District.[29] Shortly after the curfew took effect at 8 pm, police dispersed the crowd outside the Multnomah County Justice Center using tear gas. Separately, thousands of people gathered at Laurelhurst Park in southeast Portland, and others assembled outside at former police precinct at the intersection of East Burnside Street and 47th Avenue.[30]

KGW estimated there were approximately 6,000 demonstrators on May 31.[31]

June 1–2

Protesters on the Burnside Bridge on June 1, 2020

On June 1, three demonstrations were organized in Portland.[32] One was held at the intersection of Northeast Sandy and 57th.[33] Others were planned in downtown and at the intersection of Southeast Stark Street and 13th Avenue.[32] More than 1,000 protesters staged a die-in on the Burnside Bridge, then continued to downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square. Following two hours of speeches, chants, and music, demonstrators returned to the city's east side via the same bridge. Portland Police allowed use of the bridge, and the evening's events remained mostly peaceful.[34][35]

On the fifth day of protests, hundreds gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square then staged another die-in on the Burnside Bridge. A second demonstration was organized at Revolution Hall. By the evening, thousands had gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square. One group returned to the Burnside Bridge, while hundreds remained in the square. Around 8 pm, the two groups merged and numbered approximately 10,000.[36][37] The demonstrations were mostly peaceful until later in the evening; most protesters marched across the Burnside Bridge,[38] but police used stun grenades and tear gas on a smaller, separate group of people who were throwing projectiles.[39] Police arrested several people, and 16 were detained.[36] Elsewhere in the metropolitan area, there were demonstrations in Cedar Mill and at Tualatin's Lake at the Commons.[35][40][41]

The first few days of June were identified, as of July 8, as having the largest crowds of the Portland George Floyd protests, exceeding 10,000 people.[42][43]

June 3–4

Protesters at Tom McCall Waterfront Park on June 3, 2020

Several thousand people demonstrated on June 3, gathering at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where Rev. Mondainé and others spoke. Later, groups splintered, with many gathering outside the Multnomah County Justice Center once again. There were other small protests throughout the city, including one in north Portland's Columbia Park and another at Pioneer Courthouse Square.[37] The Oregonian reported an overall crowd size of approximately 8,000.[44]

Thousands demonstrated on June 4. The protests were peaceful until late at night, and twelve arrests were made. Damian Lillard helped lead thousands across the Morrison Bridge into downtown, where protests gathered at Waterfront Park.[44]

June 5–6

There were multiple demonstrations planned on June 5. Don't Shoot Portland organized the "George Floyd Memorial and Benefit Show" at Laurelwood Park. In the Woodstock neighborhood, the family-friendly "Black Lives Matter March & Rally" saw up to 2,000 people march from the All Saints Episcopal along Southeast Woodstock to 52nd, and no incidents requiring police intervention.[45] Demonstrators also gathered at Revolution Hall for the "No Justice No Peace Rally & March".[46] Portland Trail Blazers players Rodney Hood, Nassir Little, and Anfernee Simons all joined.[47] In the evening, protesters pushed down fencing in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center and police used gas and stun grenades for crowd dispersal.[48]

June 7–8

Footage of about 80% of the march at about 7:00 pm on Northeast 15th Avenue between Broadway and Fremont.

On June 7 in Portland, outside the city's Justice Center, there were 48 people who were jailed in protest.[49] The protest and march originated at Pioneer Courthouse Square.[49]

June 9–10

Daytime protester.

Demonstrators gathered at Southeast Stark Street and 12th Avenue on June 9. There were approximately 500 people outside the Multnomah County Justice Center by 9 pm.[50]

On June 10, an afternoon rally to disband the Portland Police was held in Terry Schrunk Plaza. In the evening a ride leaving Irving Park was organized by Portland's chapter of Black Girls Do Bike.[51][52] Several thousand people marched from Southeast Stark Street and 12th Avenue to Unthank Park.[53] Protesters failed to create an autonomous zone similar to Seattle's Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.[54]

June 11–12

Approximately 1,000 people demonstrated on June 11 after an already-planned city budget meeting led to historic levels of public comment, with one city commissioner, Chloe Eudaly, voting "no," stating that the proposed cuts to the police bureau fell short of what demonstrators were calling for. A unanimous vote was required to pass the budget.[55][56] "While my colleague can take a principled 'no' stance on passing this budget, I as a Black woman cannot," Commissioner Hardesty responded in a statement. "I do not want to let this detract from the very real steps taken, but it is an important reminder on what performative allyship looks like."[57]

June 13–14

ACLU legal observers attended the march to Cleveland High School.

For the 17th day, protesters assembled in various parts of the Portland area on June 13. The main march, with at least 1,000 people, went from Revolution Hall, the starting point for most of the marches, and went to Cleveland High School, including a stretch of Southeast Division St. from 11th to 26th. The Clinton Street Theater displayed a quote from Malcolm X on its marquee as protesters marched past.[58] N1789M, a Cessna 208 Caravan surveillance plane linked with the US Marshals Service circled overhead for 3 hours.[59]

About 1,000 demonstrators marched to Jefferson High School on June 14, the 18th day of protests. A statue of Thomas Jefferson was toppled from its pedestal.[60]

June 15–16

At a second city budget vote on the issue, commissioners voted 3–1 to cut PPB funding by $15 million. This would terminate the Gun Violence Reduction Team and cut funding for school resource officers and transit police, while reallocating nearly $5 million to Portland Street Response, which would respond to calls concerning homeless people instead of police. Commissioner Chloe Eudaly again voted "no".[61]

The group Care Not Cops, who wanted more money cut from PPB funding, later that day demonstrated outside of Mayor Wheeler's apartment in Northwest Portland. By midnight, they had been joined by hundreds of people, who began blocking off the streets at Northwest Glisan and 10th Avenue with impromptu. Just after 5:30 a.m. police cleared the scene; a police spokesman said there were only about 50 protesters left by that time. Mayor Wheeler helped in cleaning up the debris.[62]

June 17–30

A statue of the first U.S. president, George Washington, on Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 57th Avenue was toppled by demonstrators on June 18.[63]

Demonstrators at Reed College.

June 23 was the sentencing date for Jeremy Christian, who was convicted of murder and attempted murder for an attack in 2017. Three men, all of them white, attempted to stop Christian's attack on two black girls; Christian killed two of them and injured the third. In commemoration of that event, hundreds gathered at Powell Park on SE 26th and Powell for a demonstration and march focusing on white allies. They marched to Reed College, which one of the men killed had attended.[64][65][66]

July

Demonstrators in Maywood Park on July 4.

In early July, rioters set the Elk sculpture in the Plaza Blocks on fire.[67]

On July Fourth, demonstrators at Portland State University held an "Anti-Independence Day" rally, expressing indigenous support for Black Americans. A youth-lead march in Maywood Park was assisted by the Albina Ministerial Alliance. Motorcyclists supporting Black Lives Matter rallied at Revolution Hall. A "celebration of cultures" was held at Fields Park in Northwest Portland. Demonstrations at the Justice Center downtown continued as well.[68] Protests continued on Sunday July 5 for the 39th consecutive day.[69] Seven people faced federal charges for their activities at the Justice Center demonstrations over the July 4 weekend.[70]

Organizers

The Facebook and Twitter accounts associated with the Pacific Northwest Youth Liberation Front (or PNW Youth Liberation Front) have served as "information hubs" for sharing protest plans. The group does not have identifiable leaders and describes itself as a "decentralized network of autonomous youth collectives dedicated to direct action towards total liberation".[71] The groups' Facebook and Twitter accounts were created in February 2017, and have 3,600 and 11,000 followers, respectively, as of early June 2020. The group has used a black flag emoji, which is sometimes interpreted as anarchist symbolism.[71]

Responses

Government

Barricades outside the Multnomah County Justice Center, June 3, 2020

Portland mayor Ted Wheeler tweeted, "Burning buildings with people inside, stealing from small and large businesses, threatening and harassing reporters. All in the middle of a pandemic where people have already lost everything. This isn't calling for meaningful change in our communities, this is disgusting."[72] Sara Boone, chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, attributed the protests and violence to Floyd's death and "a system that allows people of color to 'feel fear every day.'"[73] The city implemented a curfew from 8pm on May 30 to 6am on May 31.[74][75] On May 31, Wheeler extended the curfew for another night (8pm to 6am).[26][76] He said the demonstration has been "co-opted by rioters and looters", and Jami Resch, chief of the Portland Police Bureau, called the rioters a "group of selfish individuals".[28]

On May 30, TriMet paused bus and MAX Light Rail service to and from downtown and the Rose Quarter after the demonstrations started.[77] The following day, the agency stopped bus, MAX, and Portland Streetcar[78] service starting at 3:30 pm, and said in a statement: "Our hearts at TriMet are heavy following the violence that damaged our city overnight, along with the emotions that are so raw here and across the nation. While TriMet appreciates the First Amendment right to protest, we hope that it is done without violence or vandalism."[77] The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) blocked the interchanges into the city along I-5, I-84, I-405, and U.S. Route 26.[29][79] Willamette Week's Matthew Singer said ODOT's move was "without precedent in recent memory".[78] Motorized scooter services (including Lime and Spin) were temporarily suspended in select parts of Northwest and Southwest Portland, the Central Eastside, and the Lloyd District.[78]

On June 1, Gov. Kate Brown activated 50 National Guard and 100 state police troopers. Wheeler extended the same curfew for a third night.[31][32] Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon, said at a press conference: "What I saw at the Justice Center ... was sickening. This has to stop and in order for that to happen in the city of Portland, we need help. We need bodies, we need more numbers to do something to stop this ridiculous violence. This just cannot keep up."[80]

The city's curfew was lifted on June 2.[35][81] Elected officeholders (including Wheeler, Williams, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, and Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese), law enforcement officials, and black demonstrators and community leaders met for the first time.[82][83] The Hawthorne Bridge's west-bound lanes were closed for security purposes on the evening of June 2.[36] Resch said, "I want to recognize the thousands of demonstrators who came downtown in a peaceful manner and exercised their First Amendment rights. There are many thousands of you who are not involved in the violence and destruction and I thank you. I still hear your message and I know the others who are engaging in criminal acts do not represent you."[39]

The Oregon Convention Center's (OCC) spires were illuminated yellow as a "beacon of hope for our suffering and silenced communities of color". Metro, which operates the venue, said, "Our venues are located in areas with deep legacies of racial injustices and we support peaceful demonstrations to stand together to dismantle systemic racism and hatred." Additionally, the OCC's executive director said the venue "is an economic driver for our state and the spires have become as much of a staple in the skyline at the White Stag on Burnside. We will continue to shine bright in community solidarity, providing a beacon of hope for Oregonians."[84]

On June 5, Wheeler pledged to "limit the ways police respond" by restricting use of sonic weapons and tear gas "if police had a viable alternative".[48][85] He tweeted: "Effective immediately, I have directed @Portlandpolice to use LRAD only to share information and not as a sonic warning tone function."[86][87] On June 8, Resch announced she would be stepping down; Resch was replaced by Chuck Lovell.[88][89] On June 17, City Council reduced the police bureau's budget by about $16 million, or six percent.[90]

Police

On July 8, the executive board of the Portland Police Association expressed "no confidence" in City Council, and expressed frustration with its perceived lack of support for the police bureau.[91] The following day, the deputy police chief commented on the challenges of coordinating with federal officers, and the distinction between what he termed "legitimate protest" vs. "criminal activity."[92]

Community

Rev. Mondainé of Portland's NAACP chapter spoke against looting and vandalism.[93] Some restaurant owners expressed support for the protesters via social media and by contributing to organizations working to assist people of color and combat police brutality, among other causes. Le Pigeon sustained damage during the demonstrations; owner Gabriel Rucker said, "To the person that smashed my window last night I hear you and I hope you find a voice that screams louder than broken glass. To the person who broke my window last night I love you and if you were hungry I would cook you a meal."[94]

The Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing organized a Zoom conference. More than 320 people participated, and committee members passed a resolution asking elected and law officials to "stand against white supremacy and police violence". Furthermore, the resolution says, "We must do more than make symbolic statements against racism. We must change the outcomes of policing, reducing incidents of violence, and the targeting of communities of color and other marginalized groups."[95] On June 1, the organization SOLVE organized a volunteer cleanup effort in downtown in collaboration with local businesses.[96] Hundreds of volunteers filled approximately 150 trash bags, while social distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.[97]

In early June, local business owners of color launched the Portland Cleanup Project.[98]

In late June, Rose City Justice, the organization that had organized the largest marches, ceased sponsoring marches in response to questions and concerns from other entities in the Black Lives Matter movement. Some expressed dissatisfaction with large demonstrations that did not directly engage in direct action and civil disobedience to effect change; others questioned whether the donations the group had received, which exceeded $24,000, were being put to appropriate use.[99]

The Oregon chapter of the ACLU filed a suit against the City of Portland, the Portland Police Bureau, and other law enforcement entities on June 28, claiming that police targeted and attacked journalists and legal observers.[100]

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