PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Southeast Portland resident said his home was filled with tear gas after police declared a riot on the 100th consecutive night of protests in the city. The declaration was made after someone threw what authorities described as firebombs toward police. More than 50 people were arrested overnight Saturday.
The events unfolded in a residential area of Southeast Portland, near Ventura Park, after police refused to let people march to the East Precinct. When demonstrators decided to march anyway, they were met with a line of police in the middle of SE Stark Street. That’s when someone threw a Molotov cocktail, according to Portland police. A KOIN 6 News crew saw at least two flaming objects thrown that started a fire when they hit the ground. At least one person was injured—their shoes catching on fire.
Police declared a riot and deployed tear gas which filled the neighborhood with clouds of gas.
Some neighbors were caught in the crossfire between protesters and police, and said tear gas leaked into their homes. One man said his home was so full of gas, his 13-year-old son and his friend were screaming inside their home, trying to wash out their eyes in the sink.
“I open the door to the garage that leads to my kitchen—as soon as I open the door, my eyes immediately started burning. The whole house is filled with tear gas,” said resident Elijah Warren. “I don’t even know what it is at the time because I don’t know what’s going on.”
Warren also said he was injured when he went outside to see what was going on. He said he was talking to an officer about the impact the gas was having on his son when another officer came up and hit him, giving him a concussion.
“He was actually listening to me. He was taking the time to listen, like, oh okay, this is a neighbor,” said Warren. “And the other one just hit me.”
He said he was hit from behind on the back of his head. Warren said it took a minute for him to realize he was bleeding from his ear and said he kept trying to explain that this was his home and he wasn’t a protester.
“I’m screaming at them like, ‘I’m not part of the protest!’ Like, ‘You guys were in my neighborhood,'” he said.
Warren said he needed stitches and spent several hours in the hospital overnight, but that the worst part was the impact it had on his son and his son’s friend.
“Hearing both of them screaming…it’s like, my son and his friend should even have to go through none of that. We were just sitting in our house, we weren’t part of anything,” said Warren.
KOIN 6 News reached out to the Portland Police Bureau for a response to Warren’s account. Sgt. Kevin Allen said he didn’t have any information on the specific incident but said, generally, the “bureau is committed to upholding the civil rights of all individuals, protecting human life and property, and maintaining civil order.”
“The Bureau’s commitment to public safety includes ensuring the welfare of members of the public, its officers and professional staff, with an emphasis on the sanctity of life and policing with respect. The Portland Police Bureau recognizes that this commitment may require members to use force. The community expects and the Portland Police Bureau requires that members use only the objectively reasonable force necessary to perform their duties and overcome the threat or resistance of the subject under the totality of the circumstances.
“The event you inquired about is a force event. Portland Police Officers are required to not only write a report about every use of force, but they also fill out a Force Data Collection Report that includes a full accounting of the force applied and the justification for it. After every use of force, a supervisor conducts a review to determine if it complied with legal guidelines and policy. That review, called an After Action, is then send up the chain of command to the Office of the Inspector General and, in the case of riot control agents and/or area impact munitions, to the Assistant Chief of the given branch. It is reviewed independently at each level… If it is determined that the use of force is out of policy, then corrective action is taken. Our force directive is more restrictive than state or federal laws. But even in cases where a force event is found to be in policy, supervisors are also expected to provide critique and feedback to help officers members to develop and use skills and abilities that allow them to regularly resolve confrontations while minimizing the need to use force.”
On Sunday night, Mayor Ted Wheeler released the following statement on the previous night’s riot:
“Nights like last night aren’t safe for anyone involved, and don’t move reform forward. I restricted the use of CS to life safety situations, and the Incident Commander determined that its use was necessary last night at least in part because of the fires being set in the neighborhood. I welcome an open and frank discussion about what tools officers should use, which they should not, and where to draw the lines.”