SE Portland parents concerned by effects of tear gas after riot

2020 Protests

"They don't make gas masks for kids this young," said a parent of two small children

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A Southeast Portland neighborhood is still dealing with the aftermath of the riot that police declared outside their homes on Saturday night, on the 100th night of civil unrest in the city.

Dozens of people were arrested. The standoff between protesters and police turned into a riot when police said someone threw a Molotov cocktail. One man was injured after his shoes caught on fire. Once the riot was declared, police began deploying crowd-control munitions, including tear gas and pepper balls.

Shannon Campbell speaks to KOIN 6 News via video conference call. September 7, 2020 (KOIN)

By Monday afternoon, some of the debris and damage from the riot was still left behind near Ventura Park. Several neighbors said the tear gas that filled the streets also wafted into their homes, causing both physical and emotional trauma.

“The next day, after hours of hearing it—hearing the helicopters, hearing the explosions, hearing the screams, all the tear gas—the next morning, I’m Googling how to mitigate effects of tear gas on your lawn and things like that because I’m worried about my three-year-old going out and getting contaminated,” said Shannon Campbell, who lives near Ventura Park.

“It was a very scary situation,” said Timur Ender, another neighbor. “The police were right outside our door. If we needed to leave, there was really nowhere to go. I mean, there was tear gas outside our door.”

Ender has two small children: a two-year-old and a two-month-old.

“They don’t make gas masks for kids this young,” said Ender.

Graffiti is partially scrubbed off the sign for Ventura Park, the site of a protest and riot on Saturday. September 7, 2020 (KOIN)

Other parents said their biggest concern was for their children. Many said they had to close windows and put towels under their doors to keep the tear gas from getting inside.

In a statement on Saturday night’s riot, Mayor Ted Wheeler said he restricted the use of tear gas to life safety situations and it was determined to be necessary Saturday because of the fires that were set in the neighborhood.

“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.”

Even so, residents who spoke with KOIN 6 News believed that police should have handled it differently. That’s something the mayor said he’s willing to have a discussion about.

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