PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of protesters, outraged over the death of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, took to the streets of Portland Friday night hours after body cam and surveillance footage was released by investigators.
Nichols, 29, died at a hospital 3 days after the beating. Five Memphis police officers were fired and then charged with his murder.
The Portland protesters first gathered at the Oregon Convention Center and the Burnside Skatepark. Around 8:30 p.m. they marched across the Burnside Bridge, blocking traffic in both directions, and then arrived outside the Justice Center in downtown around 9:30 p.m. But they did not stay at the Justice Center and marched back across the Burnside Bridge.
At this time, the marchers have stayed peaceful, chanting “No Justice, No Peace” as they moved through the city of Portland.
‘Elevating those families’ voices’
Andre Miller, a self-described activist, said seeing the Nichols video was traumatizing to see police act that way.
“I seen pretty much like a cartel or Mafia pretty much take him and drag him out of his vehicle,” Miller told KOIN 6 News. “And everything that I know about this young man is that he was a good young man.”
Miller said he connected with activists in Memphis and decided intentionally to hold their demonstration at the Burnside Skatepark to honor Nichols’ love for the sport.
“People really need to know this is happening in our backyard. And we need to make sure that we’re elevating those families’ voices, and we’re continuing to be out here and really trying to create substantial change,” he said.
There were candles, signs and flowers as the group marched in Southeast Portland, demanding justice and accountability.
“I know that the family actually wants peace. I also know that a lot of people when they see videos like this it’s retraumatizing for them. We continue to see Black people being murdered,” he said. “We don’t tell people how they should protest. whether that’d be peaceful, nonviolent, or whichever way they choose.”
City leaders prepared
As the same time the video was released, Portland city and civic leaders were aware of the possible protests but urged people to remain peaceful.
Nightly protests and riots roiled Portland almost every night in the months after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020. But Portland has been relatively calm for the past seven months.
The video of both body cam and street surveillance footage was released around 4 p.m. PST by the City of Memphis. It is graphic and disturbing. “In my 36 years in law enforcement, I don’t think I have witnessed the disregard for a human being displayed in this video,” Memphis Police Chief CJ Davis said.
On Friday, Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell said the bureau is aware of “a possible demonstration” beginning at the Convention Center around 7 p.m., but they are not sure if a march is anticipated.
Standing with Mayor Ted Wheeler later in the afternoon, Lovell said, “We know this atrocious act will breed further distrust and anger toward law enforcement. We understand these feelings, but we are asking our community to honor the wishes of Mr. Nichols’ family who have asked people to protest peacefully.”
He added he commends Memphis Police Chief Davis for “her swift and decisive action” in firing the five officers, who are now charged with murder.