Several dozen Portland police moved on protesters gathering in a North Portland park Monday night even before the group started marching.
The armored officers swept through the park, confiscating homemade shields and other articles. A scuffle broke out when officers tried to confiscate a picket sign that read “vote,” multiple videos from the scene showed, and at least one person was detained. Police also deployed pepper spray.
Officers also filtered through the crowd, shining flashlights at people’s faces. A journalist for The Oregonian/OregonLive heard one officer say they were looking for a particular person.
The new tactic clearly caught the protesters off guard, temporarily splintering the crowd and delaying — at least for a time — the planned march. They had planned to head to a nearby police union office. The Portland Police Association has been a frequent target of protests, as well as graffiti and attempts at more serious property damage, including fires.
After the officers left, a police loudspeaker warned police against blocking traffic or else risk citation or police use of force. Officers also towed a car associated with the protest, video from the scene showed.
On Twitter, the Police Bureau described the gathering as the beginning of an “unpermitted march,” adding that participants were seen wearing body armor and helmets. Shields were seized “for safekeeping,” the agency said.
The march went ahead, but most protesters stayed on sidewalks on the way to the union office.
As protesters arrived, police announced via loudspeaker that nearby streets remained open to auto traffic and that the sidewalk in front of the union building was closed. People who stood there, police said, could be subject to force including impact munitions and pepper spray.
Some demonstrators nonetheless stood in the street. A handful stood in front of the building and tagged the building with graffiti.
Officers arrived shortly after, standing in the roadway between the largest group of protesters and the Portland Police Association building. Police made several arrests and surrounded the union building, preventing protesters from approaching.
Monday marked nearly four months of protests against police violence and systemic racism following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
It came after a weekend in which Gov. Kate Brown put the Portland Police Bureau under the command of Oregon State Police ahead of dueling events held by far-right groups and counter-protests affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the Police Bureau’s rapid response teams, which police protests, were deputized as federal officers.
The officers will retain the federally conferred authority until the end of the year, police said Monday. The action will allow federal prosecutors to bring allegations of assault on a federal officer if the deputized Portland police officers face attacks from any demonstrators, and allow the officers to make arrests for other federal offenses. Federal crimes typically carry a stiffer sentence.
— The Oregonian/OregonLive
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