PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Demonstrators took to the streets of Portland Friday evening following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark case that protected the right to have an abortion under the U.S. Constitution.
Several protests in downtown Portland began around 5 p.m. at Lownsdale Square Park, Salmon Street Springs in Tom McCall Waterfront Park and Pioneer Courthouse Square. By 6:30 p.m., groups had merged together into a larger demonstration, consisting of approximately 1,500 people.
The crowds are largely made up of abortion rights activists, who tell KOIN 6 News they are “disappointed and enraged” by the SCOTUS decision.
A KOIN 6 News crew followed a group of abortion rights activists as they marched from Salmon Street Springs to join other protest groups at the Justice Center.
Participants KOIN 6 News spoke with say they are devastated by this decision and refuse to turn back the clock.
“Another world is possible because we are unstoppable,” An Do, executive director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said.
Local nurse, Andrew told KOIN 6 News access to abortion is not only healthcare but a human right.
“It’s a slippery slope – what’s next contraception? If we can start legislating away human rights and healthcare, the implications are massive,” Andrew said.
Abortion-rights advocate Samantha Willow adds “this is not what most people in America want and lives are at stake – lives have already been sacrificed…it’s the end of rights as we have known them and have been fighting for so many years.”
While Oregon recently passed legislation to protect abortion rights within the state, the participants KOIN 6 News spoke with said the rally is an act in solidarity for those who may lose access to abortion care in their states.
“There are people in Oregon who care about their reproductive freedoms – and I think it’s really important not to just sit back and be quiet right now,” demonstrator Caitlin Connely said.
Around 11 p.m. a KOIN 6 News crew saw a separate group start marching, with some participants throwing glass bottles at the federal court house building and starting a street fire.
While the majority of the protest was peaceful, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell issued a statement saying “I respect the right to gather and demonstrate, and I urge everyone who does to do so peacefully.” Lovell continued “I urge you to reject any attempt to undermine your message by those who utilize the tactics of criminal destruction.”
The Portland Police Bureau expected demonstrations to take place, Chief Chuck Lovell said in a statement sent to the Downtown Portland Clean & Safe organization and Portland Business Alliance on Friday afternoon.
Authorities say Portland police “will monitor these events” and that anyone who is engaging “in violent activity or property destruction will be investigated and are subject to arrest and prosecution,” adding that if it doesn’t happen at that moment, it could happen as their investigations continue.
Portland police officials also said they would be “adding resources,” but did not specify any tactics.
The statement also included tips for local businesses on protecting their property, and included contacts for the central precinct, ODOT property, City of Portland’s graffiti program and Downtown Portland Clean & Safe’s non-emergency line.
Although abortion rights are not expected to change in Oregon following the overturn of the nearly 50-year-old case, Friday morning’s 6-3 decision has led to an outpouring of reaction from lawmakers in the state and the gubernatorial candidates running in November’s general election.
Reporter Joelle Jones contributed to this report. Stay with KOIN 6 News as this story develops.