PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The 4th consecutive night of protests spurred by the death of George Floyd brought what may have been the largest crowd to downtown Portland, filling Pioneer Courthouse Square and surrounding streets.
Earlier in the day the protesters were fanned out in the Northeast and Southeast quadrants as well as in the downtown area. But after the curfew began at 8 p.m., the groups coalesced downtown.
Organizers did their best to maintain a peaceful atmosphere and their efforts worked.
PPB tweeted: “We have not witnessed any vandalism or destruction. This has been an hours’ long protest that has remained peaceful. Thank you and we see you and hear you!”
Shortly after 10 p.m. the crowd left Pioneer Courthouse Square and began marching across the Burnside Bridge again. At 11 p.m. organizers said they were ending the rally at SE 13th and Stark. Anything that may happen after that is not connected with this rally, they said.
‘We want peace, fighting for freedom’
Carlos Newell of Portland said the thousands who gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square was “beautiful. We got black, white, every color. We’re just out here having a peaceful protest, spreading love. It’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
He said he wasn’t at the earlier protests — “I know there was little riots and stuff like that going on” — but said this crowd showed what they’re fighting for: Unity and peace.
“We’re not all out here trying to cause a ruckus,” Newell said. “We want justice. We want peace. We’re fighting for freedom.”
Earlier in the night
Around 7:30 p.m. — a half-hour from the Portland 8 p.m. curfew — thousands of protesters crossed the Burnside Bridge into downtown. As they crossed, they held a “die in” for 9 minutes — the length of time George Floyd was kneeled on by a Minneapolis officer.
It was the second time in hours that protesters crossed one of the Portland bridges, as protesters crossed the Morrison Bridge earlier.
When the Burnside group got across, they merged with another group from Stark and 16th. The combined protesters then fanned out throughout the downtown Portland area.
The crowds to this point remained peaceful, chanting “George Floyd,” “No Justice, No Peace,” Whose street? Our street!” and “Let us through” as they marched along the sidewalks.
Around 8:15 p.m. police used their loudspeakers to tell the protesters not to interfere with the fencing that cordoned off a section of the core city. “If you tamper with the fencing or interfere with officer instructions you will be subject to uses of force. Stay back from the fencing.”
The crowd at SW 4th and Salmon became agitated and asked to talk with someone from the police. “We have heard your request,” a police officer said over the loudspeaker. “We have someone coming to talk with you now.” The crowd cheered.
A liaison officer came to the fencing, spoke to the crowd and tensions eased. After about 20 minutes in one location the protesters began to move again.
Section of downtown blocked off
Blockades were addressed on Twitter, where Portland police said, “Areas of downtown Portland are now closed. You must leave the closed areas now. You may practice your First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly in a peaceful manner at places outside of the closed locations.”
Demonstrators gathered in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center, which has become a frequent site in Portland’s ongoing protests against police brutality. Around 2:30 p.m. hundreds of people began moving north through the city, marching in the street, united with chants that called for justice for George Floyd, the unarmed, handcuffed Black man who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on Monday, May 25.
After marching several blocks, the protesters were met with a line of Portland police officers who stood in the street, blocking their path. The crowd met police with chants of “You’re on the wrong side,” and “No justice, no peace.” En masse, they took a knee in front of the police.
The peaceful protesters turned around and gathered in Pioneer Square where community organizer Lyfe Tavarres led demonstrators in a moment of silence for not only George Floyd, but Breonna Taylor and other Black lives lost to police violence.
Shortly after 5 p.m. marchers headed across the Morrison Bridge. After crossing the bridge, protesters doubled back and headed back into downtown.
Around that same time, another group of protesters gathered at the Washington High School campus on SE Stark. Again, the protesters were peaceful, chanting slogans and waving signs.
A demonstration to honor George Floyd, originally slated as peaceful and kid-friendly, drew a larger than expected crowd to Northeast Portland Monday afternoon.
The 4 p.m. event took place at the five corners of NE Sandy and 57th as hundreds of sign-carrying people lined the sidewalks.
In an early Monday morning press conference, Portland Police Chief Jami Resch said the bureau estimated more than 6,000 people attended Sunday’s demonstration, making it the largest protest the city had seen that week.