Portland protests continue Saturday night after reports of gunshots at afternoon counter-protest


Published by OREGONLIVE.COM

Summary generated on August 16, 2020


    Protests against systemic racism and police brutality in Portland marked their 80th consecutive day.

    Saturday's demonstrations started with a counter-protest held by right-wing demonstrators gathered in front of the downtown Justice Center to support police.

    About 30 pro-police protesters gathered downtown, with a seemingly equal number of protesters there to oppose them.

    Abbreviated skirmishes broke out between the opposing demonstrations, with pro-police protesters aiming pepper spray and firing some kind of pellet gun at people.

    The incident culminated in reports that a pro-police protester fired a gun twice from a car as they left a parking garage counter-protesters chased them into.

    Two gunshots were heard on a KOIN live stream, and a protester later showed the stream a casing they said was from one of the gunshots.

    Portland police did not respond to questions regarding the incident and instead issued a statement encouraging crime victims to file reports about what allegedly happened.

    Lt. Greg Pashley, a police department spokesman, later confirmed that police were looking into what happened.

    "Portland Police are aware of the allegation that shots were fired and will investigate," Pashley said in an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive.

    Police said one person filed a report about separate incident tied to the demonstration.

    Police did not provide any other details about that incident.

    The protest wrapped up in the early afternoon, before temperatures reached their highest mark in recent weeks.

    The "Direct-action" march, supporting the abolition of police and opposing racism, began at Laurelhurst Park in Southeast Portland.

    About 200 people had gathered there by 9 p.m. The group began to march east shortly after.

    Similarly branded events often culminate in tense scenes, with people throwing things at officers or starting small fires in streets and police responding in force.

    A direct-action event was met with heavy police resistance Friday night.

    Police repeatedly blocked protesters' path to a North Portland police building, then said the crowd engaged in illegal activity.

    Police used a loudspeaker to label the march on Killingsworth Street an unlawful assembly at 10:10 p.m. Police said people had thrown things at officers.

    An Oregonian/OregonLive journalist saw someone throw a water bottle and some type of white liquid toward an officer.

    Police called the liquid "Paint bombs."

    Five minutes later, an officer used a loudspeaker to tell protesters to leave immediately.

    Someone threw another water bottle as police were making the announcement.

    Police then immediately set off smoke devices, shot less-lethal munitions at people and advanced on the crowd.

    Officers sometimes shoved or pushed people to force them to move.

    The march continued throughout the night, and was often met by police who used force and other methods to break up the crowd.

    Protesters lit fires in four dumpsters while marching.

    The repeated use of force by Portland police drew criticism from protesters, as well as Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.

    "This is the community the police are sworn to protect and serve. They must uphold Portlanders' Constitutional rights."

    Videos posted on social media showed Portland police officers body-slamming a person identifying as a member of the press, hitting protesters with clubs, physically engaging legal observers and slashing tires of vehicles in the area of the protest.

    Portland police did not respond to Saturday to explain the tactics or force used on protesters.