PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tuesday marked the 40th day of protests in Portland and as many as 200 people gathered in front of the federal courthouse for a sit-in demonstration.
A protester told KOIN 6 News apparent federal law enforcement officers used flash bangs near the sit-in just before midnight.
One group planned a “Peaceful Sit-in” at Terry Schrunk Plaza. Organizers said they wanted to show police they were peacefully protesting and focusing on the message, not violence. That group appeared to merge with what information posted online described as a “Night of Rage for Summer Taylor.”
Summer Taylor, 24, died after being hit by a man who drove his car onto a closed Seattle freeway and into a crowd of protesters. The car also hit Diaz Love, 32, from Portland. Love remains in the hospital.
The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning via Facebook around 6 p.m. Tuesday, writing in part, “We strongly support the right to demonstrate and for people to use their individual and collective voices to express grief, outrage and call for action. But criminal activity under the guise of peaceful protests will not be tolerated.”
Numerous people spoke at the sit-in outside the federal courthouse. Many of the speakers demanded the dismantling of the enforcement system but also called on those gathered to remain non-violent.
Many in Portland’s Black community believe recent violent demonstrations are a distraction to the main cause.
“When we look at the individuals of which were part of the main concern, the African American population, you can almost count on two hands who are out there,” said Portland resident Donald Cobbs. “That’s because we made our point, don’t distract from our point, allow them to start doing legislation that’s going to help our cause. But as long as we are being distracted and allow them to distract us from that nothing is going to come of it.”
Monday’s downtown demonstrations were calmer than previous nights. Protesters set off fireworks and blocked streets, but as of midnight police had not intervened. The most tense moment was when the driver of a pickup approached a makeshift barricade and a protester slashed his tire. The driver briefly got out of the pickup and yelled at protesters before getting back in and backing up alongside the Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Other protesters and bystanders sprang into action to help him change the tire.
“We’re all trying to help him out because we’re all just regular people,” Jonathan Lalej said. Lalej estimates he has attended about 95% of the recent protests, primarily to support people of color.
Although he views the pickup driver as being “against us,” he said helping the man was the right thing to do.
“If we didn’t, we would seem like savages,” he said.