PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The violent protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white officer kneeled on his neck, spread to other cities.
In Portland, 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.
However, some people took to the streets of Downtown Portland on Thursday evening to protest police brutality. Between 70-80 people gathered on the steps of the Multnomah County Justice Center (some of whom had been there since the previous night) and, later, marched north up SW 3rd Avenue.
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.”
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.
“There’s been a trend over the last couple of years where opposing factions face off,” he said. In situations where groups are at odds, the police have to maintain public safety.
“If you’re coming here to hurt other people or damage property, we can’t have that.”
There are about 300 protest actions in the city of Portland each year, and most of them require very little action by police beyond directing traffic.
“We support people’s First Amendment rights,” he said, “but ask that people do so in a way that does not impact other people’s rights.”
Watch the PPB’s full teleconference below:
Law enforcement agencies from around the Portland metro area released a joint statement on Thursday. The following statement was signed by the Tualatin, Tigard, Sherwood and Forest police departments, the Portland Police Bureau, the Portland of Portland Police Department and the Clackamas, Washington and Multnomah county sheriff’s offices:
“We stand together as law enforcement professionals in the Portland Metropolitan Area to condemn the tactics and actions demonstrated in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is our job to protect life and increase public safety within our communities. The incident in Minneapolis does not reflect our value of the sanctity of life or the code of ethics we have sworn to uphold. It is disheartening when the actions of so few tarnish the noble profession that we have dedicated our lives to. We are committed to maintaining and strengthening the trust of our communities who grant us the privilege to serve them.”
In California, hundreds of people protesting Floyd’s death blocked a Los Angeles freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers. Memphis police blocked a main thoroughfare after a racially mixed group of protesters gathered outside a police precinct. The situation intensified later in the night, with police donning riot gear and protesters standing shoulder-to-shoulder in front of officers stationed behind a barricade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report