PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On May 25, George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer.
And the country erupted.
For the next 30 days (and counting), protesters opposing racial injustice and police brutality marched in major cities across the United States.
Portland has seen marches, peaceful rallies, riots and clashes between protesters and police as thousands continue to call for sweeping changes to the law enforcement system.
And amid the cries of “Black lives matter!” and other persistant chants, many people have started to listen.
KOIN 6 News is taking a look back at the timeline of events from the past month, starting with a riot in downtown Portland.
What started as a peaceful vigil in North Portland turned into a march through Northeast neighborhoods on the evening of Friday, May 29. The marchers eventually merged with a group gathered outside of the Multnomah County Justice Center in downtown Portland.
Chaos reigned the rest of the night and into the early morning hours of the following day.
KOIN 6 News crews witnessed protesters smashing the windows of the Justice Center. “Flares and other incendiary devices” were thrown on the first level of the building as Corrections Records staff were still there, according to officials; staffers were able to escape to a secure location inside the building. The flames were put out by the building’s fire sprinkler system; however, extensive damaged remained.
Vandalism, break-ins, looting and fires were witnessed by KOIN 6 News crews as thousands roamed the streets, either partaking in the riot or watching it unfold around them. Multiple high-end retailers, including storefronts for Apple, Louis Vuitton and Tory Burch, were breached and looted. A Chase Bank branch was broken into and set on fire.
Marches and PPS cuts ties with PPB
On June 3, a massive crowd of demonstrators marched across the Burnside Bridge. They stopped on the bridge to stage a die-in by lying face down on the ground for nine minutes in memory of George Floyd.
The next day, Portland Public Schools severed their ties with the Portland Police Bureau for school resource officers in a move supported by Mayor Ted Wheeler.
Wheeleer announced he will direct $1 million a year from the PPB budget to a program the community will design to support and nurture black children.
Later that day, a group of thousands marched from Southeast Portland, across the Morrison Bridge and stopped at Waterfront Park for the second night in a row. Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard marched at the front of the group, arm-in-arm with fellow demonstrators.
PPB chief steps down
After just six months on the job, Portland Police Bureau Chief Jami Resch announced she was stepping down from the position on June 8, effective immediately, and was being replaced by Lt. Charles “Chuck” Lovell, a Black man, as the city faced an 11th night of protests.
“To say this was ‘unexpected’ would be an understatement,” Lt. Lovell began. “I told Chief Resch over the last few weeks that I would do everything in my power to help her through these challenging times and that I’d be at her disposal to help lift her up and help her be successful.”
Tear gas ban
A day after Resch stepped down as chief, the District Court of Oregon granted a temporary restraining order limiting the Portland Police Bureau’s use of tear gas during demonstrations.
The order restricted PPB officers from using tear gas for the next 14 days unless “the lives or safety of the public or the police are at risk. This includes the lives and safety of those housed at the Justice Center. Tear gas shall not be used to disperse crowds where there is no or little risk of injury.”
Two Portland residents and Don’t Shoot Portland, a Black community advocacy nonprofit, filed a class-action lawsuit against the City of Portland over the police department’s use of tear gas on protesters.
PPB budget cuts
Fast-forward to June 17 when the Portland City Council voted 3-1 to cut $15 million (about 3%) of the PPB’s budget for the next fiscal year.
The PPB budget — about $245 million — is part of the whole city budget of $5.6 billion. The PPB cuts include getting rid of more than 80 police officer positions, mostly vacancies and retirements. Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty worked to win support for getting rid of the Gun Violence Reduction Team, school resource officers, Transit Police and 8 SERT officers.
Those officers will be reassigned within the bureau.
The $15 million in cuts is about 3% of the budget. But activists said they wanted cuts of $50 million, which is why Eudaly said she voted no.
A day commemorating the end of slavery in the United States didn’t pass by unnoticed this year in the Portland metro: hundreds of people joined rallies, a march shut down I-5 and police declared a late-night crowd downtown an “unlawful assembly.”
Multiple arrests were made beginning in the late hours of Friday night into the early hours of Saturday morning including a man and woman accused of shattering several windows of the Justice Center.
Authorities said people threw projectiles, used slingshots and breached the fence surrounding the Justice Center.
“Individuals used a slingshot to launch metal ball bearings in the direction of law enforcement personnel standing behind windows,” the Portland Police Bureau said in a report issued early Saturday. “The bearings shattered multiple windows and put deputies in danger. Individuals continued to shake the fence and throw projectiles, such as eggs, cans and bottles.”
But most of the 22nd day of protests was dominated by peaceful rallies and marches to celebrate Juneteenth. A group of about 350 people marched from Esther Short Park in Vancouver to the southbound lanes of I-5. They walked to the Interstate Bridge where they stopped to listen to speeches. Organizers called on others to use their power to vote to make changes. The group turned around after about an hour and marched back the way they came.
Governor Kate Brown is working to make Juneteenth a state holiday.
Police accountability bills
This timeline of events brings us nearly up to the present. Wednesday was the start of a special session at the Oregon Capitol. Legislators are working on several bills focused on police accountability.
Among the changes in police accountability are bills that ban chokeholds, the use of tear gas and rubber bullets. Another proposed policy thrown into the mix called for the State Attorney General to investigate fatal shootings by officers rather than have the case go to a grand jury.
There’s also legislative support for a measure that would make it more difficult for officers to get their job back in law enforcement if they are fired. While Ferraris is concerned about policymakers being too reactionary, he said he understands the gravity of the current situation.
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