PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Police made multiple arrests as protesters were cleared from Chapman Square and Lownsdale Square parks early Thursday morning, closing the parks to the public until further notice.
Just after 5 a.m. on Thursday morning, Portland police tweeted that Chapman Square Park and Lownsdale Square Park are both closed to the public. Police said all people, including journalists, are ordered to leave the area — or else they are subject to arrest for trespassing and subject to use of force.
Police confirmed they made nine total arrests after announcing the park closure. Megan Smith, Kristina Narando-Rivera, Parker Giles, Carly Ballard, Andrew Duran, Brandon Thomas, Lauren Davis, Krystin Brunson and Brandon Paape were all taken into custody.
The charges for the nine arrested included disorderly conduct, trespassing and interfering with an officer. Those arrested ranged from 18 to 36 years in age.
KOIN 6 News reporter Elise Haas witnessed several people taken into custody. She described one altercation as aggressive, saying an officer shoved a person on a bike down to the ground.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler issued a statement later in the day on Thursday, condemning the activity at the parks.
“Portland’s parks belong to everyone. As their stewards, we have a responsibility to ensure they are healthy, open and accessible to our community, and that they are safe,” Wheeler said. “Portland Parks and Recreation employees must be able to access amenities and facilities for repair and maintenance to ensure that we can continue to enjoy nature and gather peacefully. But instead, some are using our parks as a staging ground to damage public infrastructure, art, and park assets. We do not condone or tolerate this behavior.”
After protesters were cleared from the parks, a number of them stayed in the area. The demonstrators then stood their ground across the street, facing off against the row of officers guarding the park.
Angelique E, who describes herself as a Black Lives Matter supporter, said police didn’t give a reason when they clear the parks.
“At least people want a reason why, but they said everyone who was there was subject to arrest,” she said.
The city brought construction crews to the parks and erected chain link fences around to keep it closed off to the public.
Police said they cleared the park due to people setting up tents, creating a makeshift campsite. Due to reported damage, lawns, bathrooms, benches, amenities and public art will need to be repaired.
Portland Police Association President Daryl Turner declined an on-camera interview with KOIN 6 News but said he came to the parks to observe the actions of both the protesters and the police to make sure everyone was treated fairly.
Turner said he thinks the sweep was necessary.
According to Portland Parks and Recreation, the parks will remain closed until a later date, once the needed repairs and replacements are made and the City determines that the areas are safe.
“Portland Parks & Recreation staff work hard to maintain and repair public assets. Parks are community spaces which belong to everyone, and it is our responsibility to ensure that they are safe for all community members, and well-cared for as community gathering spaces and environmental assets,” the office said in a statement.
Caution: Some explicit content
The City of Portland assisted the PPB in shutting down the park, along with the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office. No federal officers assisted, according to police.
At least 100 people were gathered in Lownsdale Square in downtown Portland late Wednesday after federal law enforcement officers filled the streets with tear gas outside a federal courthouse the previous night.
KOIN 6 News also witnessed Southwest Main Street barricaded between Southwest 2nd and 3rd Avenues on Wednesday night.
Events from Tuesday
On Tuesday, Portland police said groups of people set up barricades on the street, threw glass bottles and pointed lasers Tuesday night. Around 4 a.m. Wednesday, federal police used tear gas against protesters; the tear gas was witnessed by some KOIN 6 News staff.
In addition, multiple videos on social media showed federal officers driving an unmarked van downtown, getting out, going up to at least one protester, getting them into the van, then taking off without identifying themselves.
Federal agents’ nightly responses to demonstrators over the past week has been assailed by four of Oregon’s federal lawmakers in a joint letter addressed to U.S. Attorney William Barr and acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf, even as President Trump has continued to praise federal officers’ response. The letter was cosigned by U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley along with U.S. Reps. Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer.
Portland police tweet that both Chapman Square Park and Lownsdale Square Park are closed to the public and ordered any people in the area to leave. They said anyone who does not comply will be subject to arrest for trespassing and subject to use of force.
Upwards of 150 people listened to speeches near the Justice Center and federal courthouse on SW 3rd Avenue. Authorities turned on a bright white spotlight from several stories up outside the federal courthouse, pointing toward demonstrators.
By 10 p.m., protesters had blocked off a block of Southwest Main Street between Southwest 2nd and 3rd. At least 100 protesters gathered in Lownsdale Square to listen to speeches and chant.
At about 7 p.m. Wednesday, about 50 people were present at Lownsdale square, though it’s not clear if all of them were there specifically to protest. Some of the people were in tents, which included a food tent, called Riot Ribs. They have been cooking and giving away free food to people in recent weeks, even as activities descend into chaos late into the night downtown.
A makeshift vigil with a chain and tea candles could be seen at the location where Donavan LaBella was shot in the head by a riot control munition by federal officers Saturday night. According to multiple witnesses, LaBella was holding a speaker above his head at the time. A KOIN 6 News reporter at the scene saw in the immediate aftermath of the incident two large puddles of blood, in the grass at Lownsdale Square and on the sidewalk. The remnants of one of the blood puddles was still visible on the pavement Wednesday.
This story will be updated as we find out more information.