PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — After a new fence was erected around the Hatfield Federal Courthouse following intense clashes between protesters and federal agents in recent nights, people gathered around it as one man tried to decorate the fence with American flags.
Gabriel Johnson of Portland said he served 8 years in the Marines.
“I have tremendous PTSD. So 85 flash bangs and tear gas in my apartment is very triggering, and part of that trigger and one way to stop it is to be about change,” Johnson said. “We deserve better. We deserve to be brought together.”
But the flags became a flash point to those who see it as divisive or a symbol of oppression. One woman even glad one of the flags and threw it to the ground. Others debated what it means to them.
Johnson agrees with protesters on some points. He opposes the use of federal law enforcement officers in Portland.
“We shouldn’t have paramilitary forces in our streets,” he said.
Overall the 2 sides represent a divide in the country that Johnson hopes can eventually be healed.
“I support the city. I support the police. I support us coming together because it’s about time. It’s been 50-plus days of us being out in the street — and what’s been accomplished?”