PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — More than a dozen people were arrested after two groups of protesters converged in downtown Portland Wednesday evening, with one group going to Waterfront Park and the other blocking the Morrison Bridge and vandalizing small businesses and churches along West Burnside.
That brought a swift response from the Unified Command of the Oregon State Police, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and the Portland Police Bureau. The National Guard was activated around 7 p.m. A riot was declared around the same time.
Several people had been arrested in downtown Portland by 9 p.m., according to Unified Command. Authorities said they arrested a man accused of throwing a Molotov cocktail — which was later determined to be a firework — at officers. That man was wearing a tactical vest and had a loaded rifle with additional magazines, an improved explosive device, a knife and cans of spray paint, Unified Command said.
Law enforcement said they had also seized commercial-grade fireworks and hammers throughout the night.
Unified Command denied rumors of officials using an unmarked van to grab and arrest people, saying arrestees were being transported in marked police vehicles though some agencies were using unmarked vehicles to transport law enforcement personnel.
The Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt condemned the overnight destruction on Thursday morning. In a statement, Schmidt called the damage done to various shops and small businesses in Old Town and downtown Portland “unacceptable and criminal.” He said his office is fully committed to prosecuting those who engaged in Wednesday night’s destructive conduct.
D.A. Schmidt’s full statement can be found lower in this article
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday released the names and charges of the 12 people arrested:
- Wyatt Dylan Scully, 19, from Portland, charged with Trespass II
- Tanner Nokoa Alcorn, 29, from Portland, charged with Trespass II
- Jason Mercury Tyler, 22, from Beaverton, charged with Trespass II
- Jarrod Deferrari, 23, from Sunrise, Florida, charged with Riot, Disorderly Conduct I, Criminal Mischief I, Sale/Possession of Fireworks, Burglary II, Attempt Arson II
- Leslie Johnson, 25, charged with Trespass II
- Ian Wyatt Harrington, 25, from Portland, charged with Interfering with a Peace Officer, Disorderly Conduct II
- James Christopher Saraceno, 49, from Portland, charged with Interfering with a Peace Officer, Disorderly Conduct II, Reckless Burning, Riot
- Michael Tyler Ream, 38, from Portland, charged with Resisting Arrest, Interfering with a Peace Officer, Disorderly Conduct II
- Ashley Schofield, 36, from Portland, charged with Interfering with a Peace Officer, Resisting Arrest, Harassment
- William Kahl Beecher, 23, from Oregon City, charged with Possession of Loaded Firearm, Riot, Disorderly Conduct II
- Sherlock Ortiz, 23, from Portland, charged with Criminal Mischief I
- Wesley C. Fant, 29, from Portland, charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm
- Luke Harrah, 27, from Colorado Springs, Criminal Mischief I, Criminal Mischief II x2 (per Multnomah County District Attorney)
How it unfolded
Nearly 1000 people marched from Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland into downtown Portland Wednesday evening.
This was part of multiple demonstrations in the Portland metro region as the results of the 2020 presidential election remain uncertain. The marchers were very diverse and chanted, “This is what community looks like.”
Many “Count Every Vote”-themed signs were spotted, and ‘Count Every Vote’ was projected on a tent set up at Waterfront Park at the Saturday Market location.
Around 5:30 p.m., a group of demonstrators blocked the Morrison Bridge in both directions, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office said. They urged motorists to avoid the area.
Two separate groups filled the area, one on either side of Naito Parkway.
“We support your right to freedom of speech, please do not engage in criminal activity. If you engage in criminal activity you will be subject to citation or arrest. You also will be subject to use of force to include crowd control munitions or tear gas,” they tweeted. They also told the group to “not damage property” near Skidmore Fountain.
One group that started at Revolution Hall eventually moved to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park where they held speeches. Authorities say this group’s event was safely managed and left later in the night without any incident.
However, another group continued to cause destruction.
“We’re monitoring two main groups in Downtown Portland. One group left Revolution Hall. We appreciate their efforts in managing their event safely. Another group that started in the North Park Blocks, has been observed smashing windows and vandalizing property,” Unified Command tweeted.
The Unified Command declared a gathering near Skidmore Fountain an unlawful gathering around 6:40 p.m. Shortly after authorities issued a warning, the group of roughly 100 people began walking down West Burnside Street.
Authorities said people in this second group damaged businesses and ATMs along Burnside and SW Harvey Milk Street and threw objects, including glass bottles, at officers. The Portland Business Alliance said the vandalism targeted several small businesses, retailers, restaurants and places of worship. KOIN 6 News saw windows smashed at Wildfang — a woman-owned clothing store that sells pro-feminist merchandise. Windows were also shattered at Saint Andre Bessette Church and restaurant Lovely Rita.
One man threw a firework at officers but was later found and arrested nearby. The man, identified as 23-year-old William K. Beecher, was wearing a ballistics vest while being armed with a loaded rifle and also possessed several loaded magazines, a knife and other fireworks.
The criminal activity continued despite the various warnings from authorities, resulting in the Unified Command declaring a riot. Ultimately, Governor Kate Brown activated the National Guard.
Members of the National Guard assisted with crowd management and cleared space for businesss owners to board up their property. They, along with law enforcement officers, moved through Downtown to perform high visibility patrols. Police later disengaged from the crowd one the criminal activity had subsided.
Things began to pick back up around 9 p.m. when people started to gather in Lownsdale and Chapman Square Parks. The group blocked Southwest Main Street and lit a small bonfire.
After another hour, about 100 people left and began walking north toward W Burnside once again. Police announced over a loudspeaker that the group was not to cross the street or else be subject to arrest and/or use of force including tear gas. The announcement riled up the group, as individuals began to throw more glass bottles and blocked traffic.
As police attempted to disperse the crowds, the groups continued to move through downtown and damage more property.
According to the Unified Command, officers moved people west through downtown to I-405. They then disengaged from the crowd at about 11 p.m. to give people the chance to return to lawful behavior. However, the marchers continued on for several hours.
The group ultimately dispersed for the most part by 1:15 a.m. Overall, authorities say at least 10 arrests were made by the end of the night.
“I find it beyond comprehension that anyone would continue to think that the destruction of our small businesses in downtown Portland is somehow acceptable or represents the exercise of free speech. These destructive acts of political violence, must stop now,” said Andrew Hoan, the president and CEO of the Portland Business Alliance. “I hope every elected official will react and denounce this reprehensible behavior, just as vehemently as when our beloved Oregon Historical Society was attacked.”
The organization urged Portlanders to show their support by shopping at local small businesses.
MultCo D.A. Responds
On Thursday morning, Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt issued a statement condemning the destruction seen overnight. Read his full statement below:
“When we stand up against injustice in our community we do so with an unwavering expectation that our businesses and critical service providers will not be targeted with property damage and that people can gather without fear of physical violence.
What we saw last night – the destruction of property at multiple businesses including at a female-founded and women run local clothing store, at a church that provides healing and shelter, clothing, food and assistance to homeless individuals and people overcoming substance abuse and addiction and at a hotel that is committed to the revitalization of Old Town Chinatown — is unacceptable and criminal.
My office rejects all forms of violence and property destruction. We are fully committed to prosecuting those individuals who engage in this conduct. We will work in partnership with law enforcement to develop cases by identifying suspects and evidence that can be used in court to ensure accountability for criminal acts occurring in our community.”
We will always support those who participate in demonstrations absent of behavior that promotes and inflicts harm because such conduct diminishes our shared objectives of creating a stronger, healthier and more equitable community.”
Tuesday night, demonstrators gathered at Revolution Hall and marched through the streets of Portland in what was termed a “West Coast Solidarity” event.
The crowd was several hundred strong at one point and returned to Revolution Hall around 10 p.m. KOIN 6 News witnessed some graffiti during the march, as well as an argument between demonstrators and two people who were standing outside a home, but police did not interact with the march and thanked the participants for “maintaining a peaceful event.”
Reporter Jennifer Dowling contributed to this story.