Bonfire lights the 45th night of protests in downtown Portland

2020 Protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Demonstrations against police brutality have continued in downtown Portland for more than six weeks. On Sunday, people once again gathered in the public squares across the street from the Justice Center and the US District Courthouse.

After an afternoon of protesters socializing, eating food and listening to speeches near Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square, smaller groups of demonstrators hung around late into Sunday night. Roman candle and bottle rocket fireworks were set off and a few bonfires were lit, including one at the base of what used to be Portland’s Elk Fountain statue. Police say cardboard, debris and wood from nearby construction sites or boarded up businesses was used to keep the blaze burning.

Protesters surround the base of what used to be Portland’s Elk Fountain Statue. July 12, 2020.

With smoke wafting through the Justice Center, Portland Fire and Rescue crews were brought in around 2:30 a.m. to extinguish the flames. As crews approached the crowd, a wrist rocket ball bearing was fired at one of the firefighters. Police then announced, “If you remain in the area and show the intent to engage in physical resistance to removal or if emergency circumstances require, you may be subject to the use of force including riot control agents.”

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office helped Portland officers ensure the scene was safe and both fell back once the fire was extinguished.

After the blaze was put out, police say some protesters began moving park benches into the middle of the intersection near Lownsdale Square, along with more plywood and debris. Depsite PPB’s orders to not build anymore fires, a few demonstrators began lighting a new one — but others in the crowd put it out.

The rest of the crowd slowly dwindled and dispersed over the next hour, police say. At this time, there has no mention of any arrests made.

These demonstrations come a day after a protester was seriously injured by federal officers outside the courthouse Saturday night. That man was still in the hospital Sunday after undergoing surgery for those injuries.

KOIN 6 News spoke with people who know and helped Donavan Labella, the protester who was seriously injured after federal offices fired a munition that struck him in the head on Saturday night. Caitlyn Sakelik, a friend of Labella’s, said he has been a peacekeeper among protesters.

Field Medic Jessica Shifflett talked about her experience at protests outside the Justice Center as a whole and described the community that has formed between demonstrators who have shown up for the past 46 nights.

Timeline of Events:

2:30 a.m.

Portland Fire and Rescue crews were brought in to extinguish the bonfire. As crews approached the crowd, a wrist rocket ball bearing was fired at one of the firefighters.

Police then announced, “If you remain in the area and show the intent to engage in physical resistance to removal or if emergency circumstances require, you may be subject to the use of force including riot control agents.”

The crowd dispersed over the next hour.

1:30 a.m.

Protesters gathered cardboard, plywood and other debris to build a bonfire at the base of what used to be Portland’s Elk Fountain statue.

12 a.m.

More than one hundred protesters stood in the street and the square outside the federal courthouse. They chanted “Black Lives Matter” to the beat of a drum.

So far, there hasn’t been a significant police presence outside.

11 p.m.

The bonfire at the Elk statue grows in size as does the crowd in downtown Portland.

Protesters chant the name of the man who was seriously injured by federal officers outside the courthouse Saturday night. A field medic said he was a regular face at the demonstrations and was always playing music out of a speaker. Donavan LaBella is described as someone who is always laughing.

10 p.m.

A few dozen protesters stood around a bonfire that had been lit at the site where the Elk statue previously stood on SW Main Street.

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