Portland Police Declare Unlawful Assembly During Protest


Photographer: Alisha Jucevic/AFP via Getty Images

(AP) -- The Portland Police Bureau declared an unlawful assembly during Saturday night's protest when people gathered outside a northeast Portland precinct and threw bottles towards officers.

Until that point, federal, state and local law enforcement had been seemingly absent from the protests Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The demonstrations — that for weeks ended with tear gas, fireworks shot towards buildings, federal agents on the street and injuries to protesters and officers — have recently ended with chanting and conversations.

Activists and Oregon officials urged people at Saturday night’s protest in Portland to re-center the focus on Black Lives Matter, three days after the Trump administration agreed to reduce the presence of federal agents in Oregon.

Groups gathered Saturday evening in various areas around downtown Portland to listen to speakers and prepare to march to the Justice Center and Mark O. Hatfield Courthouse.

One of the more popular events, “Re-centering why we are here - BLM,” was hosted by the NAACP. Speakers included activists as well as Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

As a couple hundred protesters began to march Saturday, some police officers could be seen on the street. Another group of protesters marched to a precinct for the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police Bureau in the 4700 block of East Burnside.

Police stated that protesters proceeded to throw glass bottles and direct lasers at officers. By 9:55 p.m. the Portland Police declared an unlawful assembly and directed people to disperse or they may be subject to use of force or be arrested.

Friday night and early Saturday more than 1,000 people showed up downtown to peacefully protest. In a news release early Saturday, the Portland Police Bureau described the crowd as subdued and said there was no police interaction with protesters.

At one point during Friday's protest, a lone firework was shot at the courthouse. In the weeks past the action would be met with more fireworks or teargas canisters being dropped over the fence into the crowd. This time, protesters chastised the person who shot the firework, pleading to keep the demonstration peaceful.

The relative calm outside a federal courthouse that’s become ground zero in clashes between demonstrators and federal agents had come after the U.S. government began drawing down its forces under a deal between Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and the Trump administration.

Portland had seen more than two months of often violent demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In early July President Donald Trump sent more federal agents to the city to protect the federal courthouse, but local officials said their presence made things worse.


Sara Cline is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues.