PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty spoke out against the federal response Friday evening outside the Justice Center.
This comes a day after protesters were doused with hefty amounts of tear gas and hit with impact munitions Thursday night. Dustin Brandon, who uses a wheelchair, was among those who were scrambling to get out of the way. It was hard for him to breathe as he tried to describe his experience.
“You can feel the gas as I’m talking,” he said.
Brandon said he was also hit in the back by some sort of impact munition.
“I got [expletive] drilled with two of them,” he said. “I got hit in the back.”
Field medics on the scene who treated protesters could attest to the intensity of the federal response.
“If you get a good lung-full, it will drop you,” said field medic Chris Wise. “They came out and they used tear gas, which is the military grade, which is 40% stronger. So, people were out here vomiting, throwing up, and just coughing their lungs out.”
Community leaders joined Hardesty on the steps of the Justice Center to call for federal forces to leave Friday night. She called for a peaceful protest and said Portlanders’ rights to free speech and assembly need to be protected, and called for an end to the violence “perpetrated against protesters.”
“My wish is that this is a PG-13 crowd. My wish is that we show the world that we are not going to allow 45 to experiment on us,” said Hardesty.
Musicians wrapped up the speaking portion of the rally as people held up their lit cell phones and lighters up in unity.
There were some moments at the rally when members of the crowd shouted and called for a more aggressive response, but Hardesty said her wish was for it to be a peaceful protest.