PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Dozens of arrests were made Saturday night as law enforcement officers cleared protesters out of the streets near the Justice Center in Downtown Portland. Police eventually declared an unlawful assembly just before midnight and pushed people out of the park and surrounding streets.
Around 300 people gathered on SW 3rd Avenue outside the Justice Center. Speeches in front of the building appeared to be relatively peaceful.
A small group of people set an American flag on fire just before 9 p.m., but aside from that action, it appeared to be a calmer crowd compared to past demonstrations. Still, police arrived to clear people out of the street to make way for vehicular traffic. Clashes between officers and demonstrators followed.
One local group at the demonstration said they were tired of what they described as a lack of leadership regarding the city.
Several arrests were made. At one point, when an officer was attempting to load another person into a transport van, another man forced his way out and ran down the block. He sprinted with his hands still in zip-ties as the crowd cheered him on. Witnesses said he didn’t get very far before he was stopped by police again and taken into custody.
“He took off right here and they lit him up with the pepper balls right there,” described Michael Yon. “He kept going and got maced about 140 meters.”
Yon said he has covered war and other conflicts before, and was downtown to document the events of Saturday night. He said he’s most disturbed by reports of Molotov cocktails being thrown at police.
“As soon as you up the ante to lethal force, all the rules change,” said Yon. He is part of Save Portland, a new group started by Gabriel Johnson.
“This isn’t the same heart of the city as we know,” said Johnson. “Businesses are still boarded up, people aren’t coming back.”
Johnson lives downtown. He and other organizers are worried about the future of the city.
“We formed a coalition based on everything that we’ve been seeing, based on 100-plus days here in Portland–and no change,” said Johnson.
“We want to talk to people who want to be part of that change, part of that leadership that people want to follow, listen, talk, and come up with solutions,” said Angela Todd, another group member.
After law enforcement started clearing the streets Saturday night, some people complained officers had indiscriminately shoved members of the press and others to the ground. On Sunday, Governor Kate Brown addressed the demonstrations on Twitter where she called for the heads of each agency that oversaw protests–Oregon State Police, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, and Portland Police Bureau–to “review any alleged incidents involving officers from each of their agencies during joint operations.” She said she took the “use of physical force by law enforcement officers seriously, whether it involves members of the public or the media.”