PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A young man was arrested as protests over the death of George Floyd led to tense moments between police and protesters in downtown Portland overnight.
As Portland Police Bureau officers arrived in riot gear, some protesters blocked streets around the Multnomah County Justice Center around 3 a.m. on Friday morning. About Between 70-80 people were already gathered on the steps of the building on Thursday evening and, later, marched north up SW 3rd Avenue.
Twenty-year-old Oliver Rodriguez was arrested overnight and charged with interfering with a police officer along with resisting arrest.
“PPB monitored the demonstration overnight for several hours. Some streets were blocked, but there was minimal traffic and very little impact,” said Lieutenant Tina Jones in an email to KOIN 6. “We managed this event like we do hundreds throughout a given year, by assessing the situation and determining if there are dangers to life or property and if intervention is necessary.”
One demonstrator — Adrian Echols — said, “Police shootings and police killings of American Americans like myself, this isn’t new. It’s just everyone just has iPhones now so it’s getting recorded.”
Although the protests in Portland were tense, they have not turned violent.
They were protesting the death of 46-year-old George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis after an officer held his knee on his neck for several minutes. The four police officers have been fired, including Derek Chauvin, the officer seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck until he lost consciousness.
On Friday morning, President Trump tweeted saying protesters in Minneapolis were “thugs” and said that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Earlier on Thursday, Trump said, “I feel very, very badly” about George Floyd’s death. “That’s a very shocking sight,” he said.
More protests coming
The NAACP is planning a “Eulogy for Black America” at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Terry Schrunk Plaza in downtown. The event will include a number of dignitaries, including Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
A Reddit thread announced a vigil for George Floyd to begin at 6 p.m. Friday at Peninsula Park.
Portland police prepare
Following some prepared remarks, PPB Acting Chief Chris Davis answered a variety of questions about protests in general and how the bureau is planning for the expected protests Friday.
“We prepare for these the same way we prepare every time we have a protest in Portland,” Davis said, and that includes learning as much about the groups holding the protest in advance.
But protests take on a completely different dynamic “when the protest is about the police,” he said.
During the pandemic, he said, it’s not the police’s place to do strict enforcement of social distancing. Davis noted he saw protest organizers in Minneapolis trying to enforce social distancing for safety and said that’s the more appropriate way to go.
When preparing for a protest, “we never start with the assumption that there will be criminal activity.” But he noted it’s a “very delicate balance” in policing these events.
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