Portland, OR - Inauguration Day brought riots and protests in major cities all across the country. The city of Portland was no exception and after large crowds prompted police response, harsh criticism has poured in on the tactics used to disperse the crowds. Activists in the area have since demanded that Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman be fired for what they say was unnecessary use of force, for using flash bangs and sting-ball grenades. Mayor Ted Wheeler was given until last night (Tuesday) to heed their demands to fire the chief or they promised unrest through the whole city starting Wednesday morning.
Triggered protesters took the streets of Portland on Friday night after we welcomed our 45th President Donald Trump to the White House. According to KOIN protesters claim, their 'peaceful' gathering was agitated by the Portland Police Department when they used unnecessary force. “Everywhere we went, they started assaulting us with flash bang grenades with gas canisters, with rubber bullets,” Jacob Bureros with Direct Action Alliance said. “They created a confrontation where there didn’t need to be a confrontation and a lot of people got hurt because of it.”
Claims that police "created a confrontation" by their presence is normal way for rioters to excuse assaulting police officers.
Police responded to the allegations and said they used all force necessary after their officers were assaulted on the frontlines. Protesters threw “rocks, bottles, flares and unknown liquids,” at officers dressed in riot gear, the department said. Officers formed barriers against protesters who attempted to block roads, like they've done in the past. Flash bangs, pepper spray and rubber pellets were all used to disperse the aggressive crowds.
The Portland police oversight division has fielded all complaints and commendations that have come in since Friday's protests and will do an investigation on the force used. Chief Marshman said he would not be resigning, despite the demands. Mayor Wheeler made a statement also, saying, “Based on the info I had [Friday]… I think police acted appropriately."
Chief Marshman also fired back at protesters, explaining how draining it is on the department to have to staff so many officers to the protests, officers that could be out being proactive in their city. He also brought attention the criminal element that often accompanies the protests. There is, “a very small criminal element that seems to want to hijack some of these protests and cause the damage,” he explained. “They got the goggles, they got the shields on themselves, I just think they want to come battle the police.”
“Our goal is not to arrest at protests,” he said. “The protests aren’t the problem. Free speech, get your permit, we’ll help you do it successfully to get your message out.” Coordination between the department and the protesters can assure a much safer, successful demonstration he said. One such example was the Women's March that took place the next day. They had the proper permits, coordinated with the department and wanted to work with all front line officers on ensuring a successful march, which they did.
Now that Marshman and Wheeler have both refused to bow down to the demands of the protesters, they were prepared for anarchy in their city, promised to start Wednesday morning. “A decentralized, citywide occupation of squares, shutting down bridges, shutting down intersections, whatever it may be,” Bureros vowed would happen. “And it’s going to last for a very long time until the city takes responsibility for what happened that night.”
Wednesday morning came and went with nobody but the media present at the meetup location. A message posted on Facebook later said that the new time was actually 3 PM.
UPDATE: They showed up, and got an asskicking courtesy of Portland PD, with video HERE.
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