Portland police arrested seven adults and cited six juveniles Monday during a downtown protest dubbed “Not My Presidents Day.”
Among those arrested or cited were a 66-year-old woman and a 14-year-old boy.
The protest marked Portland’s latest conflict between police and protesters and, according to police, included the “limited deployment” of pepper spray and non-lethal shots fired by officers.
The Police Bureau’s enforcement tactics drew a strong rebuke from the ACLU of Oregon, which called the events “shameful.”
Sgt. Pete Simpson, a police spokesman, defended the Police Bureau’s response as necessary to keeping unruly protesters in check “before it got out of hand.”
“We would much prefer things were different,” Simpson said. “But we’re sort of forced to be there now because of the aggressive nature of the, ‘We’re going to show up, we’re going to block streets, we’re going to shut the city down’ attitude.”
Monday’s scene appeared to differ from past protests as officers used loudspeakers to order protesters out of streets and onto sidewalks – calling specific marchers out by clothing or, in some cases, directly by name. Later, police made arrests on the sidewalks where protesters had been directed.
Simpson said officers identified specific people via loud speaker to ensure they heard commands. In past cases, Simpson said, protesters claimed they didn’t hear orders.
Simpson said following police directives after breaking the law doesn’t absolve someone.
“Once a decision is made to arrest someone, if they leave the street and go to the sidewalk, that’s not like home base,” he said.
In one confrontation Monday, a woman angrily approached a row of officers clad in riot gear on the sidewalk of Southwest Sixth Avenue. An officer then appeared from behind the row to fire two rubber bullets into the woman’s torso from close range, according to a video shot by protest-documenter Mike Bivins and posted to Willamette Week’s website.
Simpson said the woman attempted to spit at officers.
In a separate confrontation, a senior citizen was left with a bloodied face after apparently rolling on the ground with an officer. Simpson said the woman attempted to stop the arrest of a different protester.
“She interjected herself in that process and tried to assist the person, to unarrest them, if you will,” he said.
The ACLU condemned police actions for leading to violence against protesters and called on Mayor Ted Wheeler to revise crowd-control strategies. In a series of seven Tweets, the American Civil Liberties Union said the “indiscriminate violence against Portlanders was shameful.”
Most of the people were “gathered on public property on the sidewalk when they were shoved down and arrested,” the Portland-based nonprofit wrote. “On. The. Sidewalk.”
All 13 people detained by police received traffic citations for failing to obey an officer. Each adult also was arrested for second-degree disorderly conduct.
One man declined to provide his name and instead used the identity of Quanice Hayes, a 17-year-old armed robbery suspect who was shot and killed by police this month. That man also faces additional charges of resisting arrest and furnishing false information to police.
Police arrested Margaret Ann Zebroski, 66; Heather Grace White, 42; David Johnathan Carlson, 31; Charles Ernest Stubbs, 38; Lucy Elizabeth Smith, 34; and Rebecca Smith-White, 33; and the unidentified 37-year-old man. Teens ranged in age from 14 to 17.
Simpson asked witnesses to contact the Independent Police Review Division with commendations or complaints about officer conduct during Monday’s protest.
“If there’s something they saw wrong,” he said, “we want people to tell us.”
— Brad Schmidt