PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Protesters can often be heard chanting, “Stay together, stay tight! We do this every night” in the streets of downtown Portland. The second half of the slogan is especially fitting as demonstrations against police and systemic racism continued for the 41st consecutive night Wednesday in downtown Portland.
Terry Schrunk Plaza was the scene of a loose gathering of about 100 people Terry Schrunk Plaza on Wednesday evening. A group of federal police officers ran through the area at about 9:30 p.m. and some protesters claimed the officers used pepper spray. Others said the officers were responding to someone using a laser. The scene quickly cleared. It’s unclear at this time whether any arrests were made.
Hundreds of people gathered near the Justice Center and Federal Courthouse Tuesday night to remember Summer Taylor, who was killed after being hit by a car while protesting in Seattle.
The sit-in and separate vigil remained mostly peaceful until about midnight, when protesters said an altercation between some demonstrators happened near Chapman Square. That’s when authorities believed to be federal police rushed into the park, set off flash bangs, and abruptly retreated, according to protesters. The scene calmed down within 15 minutes, and demonstrators returned to Chapman Square and the area in front of the Justice Center.
Riots were declared four nights last week. Dozens of people have been arrested by Portland police and at least seven people now face federal charges.
During a press conference Wednesday, Deputy Chief Chris Davis was asked about the criteria for declaring a riot. Legally, a riot occurs when there are “six or more persons engaging in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creating a grave risk of causing public alarm, excluding persons who are engaged in passive resistance,” Davis said. In application, though, the bureau doesn’t normally declare a riot until conduct goes far beyond what’s described in Oregon law, he added.
“Sustained barrage of hazardous things thrown, fires, that kind of behavior,” Davis said. “We’re really looking more at it in terms of life safety risks.”