Pearl District reeling in aftermath of destructive demonstration

Protests

Dozens of black-clad protesters gathered at the Pearl District Saturday night for a direct action protest against immigration policies under the Biden administration. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Community members in the Pearl District spent Sunday cleaning up the neighborhood following a direct action protest that swept through the area, as dozens dressed in black bloc damaged buildings by breaking windows and tagging them with graffiti decrying racism and fascism.

This was the largest demonstration seen downtown in weeks. Social media posts indicate that the march may have been a response to immigration policy under the Biden administration, as well as police brutality and racism in the community.

Warning: The following video may contain disturbing content for some viewers

Portland Police said the group marched from The Fields Park on Northwest Overton Street, at around 9 p.m.

A Chipotle on Northwest Lovejoy Street had its windows smashed out at around 9:30 p.m. Saturday while customers were still inside.

Other businesses caught in the damage include a Starbucks, an Urban Pantry and an Umpqua Bank.

Some fights also broke out in the street between spectators and protesters. In one video shot by an independent journalist, a woman can be heard exchanging words with someone in the group dressed in black bloc. The woman yelled several racial slurs as the confrontation eventually escalated to physical violence with punches thrown.

Residents in the Pearl could also be heard yelling at protesters, telling them to “go home” at some points. Protesters yelled expletives back at the residents.

Two people were arrested during the demonstration.

Jim Rice, who owns The Field Bar and Grill, boarded up his business ahead of the march.

“We knew that we were going to have a violent protest last night,” he said. “We knew about it early in the week. We’ve been talking with local police, local government for support to ensure that we were going to be safe — and ultimately they didn’t have the resources to deal with this group that came through.”

Police said they were limited to addressing criminal behavior among the protesters due to several shootings that had occurred around the city while the demonstration was going on.

Pearl District Neighborhood Association President Stan Penkin said he is “disappointed” in the lack of communication between the community and the city on how to respond to the demonstrations, particularly when there was advanced warning that there would be destruction.

“We’re doing everything we can,” he said. “It’s certainly a frightening and frustrating time not just for our neighborhood but I think for the entire city.”

Penkin said that while he doesn’t know why the Pearl District was a target for Saturday’s demonstration — other than it being the location of the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services field office — he suspects it may be because the neighborhood is “erroneously” portrayed as being for the elite.

“We are often mislabeled and perhaps some of those folks feel that they can target the Pearl because of that.”

Moving forward, Penkin said neighbors would like to see more communication from the city leaders about what actions they are taking.

“Here in the Pearl, we follow the philosophy of gorvernment and community working together,” he said. “However, I feel at this point that the communities in not just the Pearl but in others as well, are doing more than their share.”

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