PORTLAND, Ore. – Mayor Ted Wheeler said overall, the protests over the weekend in
Portland were “highly successful” and he believes police’s use of crowd control tactics, including pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets, were “appropriate.”
On Friday, thousands of people protested during a rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square after the inauguration of Donald Trump. An un-permitted march followed and five people were arrested in connection with confrontations that took place after some protesters threw objects at police and attempted to walk over multiple Portland bridges. After warning protesters, police used flash bangs, pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the crowd.
The protest ended at about 9 p.m. The protest ended far earlier and fewer people were arrested than during protests following Trump’s election in November.
On Saturday, an estimated 100,000 people attended the permitted Women’s March on Portland, in conjunction with women’s marches around the world. Portland police called that march 100 percent peaceful. No one was arrested during the march.
“Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people – perhaps more than 100,000 – exercised their right to assembly and expression in our city,” Mayor Wheeler said in a statement Monday. “My top priority is always to protect the safety of everyone involved. Additionally, I want to try to limit acts of vandalism and disruptions to transit. By these measures the weekend was highly successful.”
Wheeler said he was in communication with Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman before the demonstrations and police had a much easier time working with the women’s march than the Friday protest.
“Generally speaking, the higher the degree of coordination between the city and event organizers, the smoother the event,” Wheeler said.
Organizers of Friday’s protest criticized Portland police of attacking protesters, denying First Amendment rights, and using spray and gas on children. KGW has not confirmed these claims.
“This is a disgusting abuse of power,” said Portland’s Resistance leader Gregory McKelvey. “When police hurt innocent people, the police are to blame not the victims for ‘being there.’”
Wheeler said early indications show police acted appropriately.
“No one likes to see the use of crowd control devices,” he said. “I certainly don’t. When these devices are used, I want to be sure that they are used under the proper circumstances. Early indications are that their use on Friday night was appropriate.”
Wheeler said he would review the police’s actions Friday night and anyone who wants to file a complaint against an officer can do so through the Independent Police Review Division.
(© 2017 KGW)