PORTLAND, OR – Thousands of people protested racism in the streets of Portland on Thursday in the first demonstration since
the release of federal reinforcements sent by President Donald Trump.
Unlike the protests over the past couple of weeks, this protest was peaceful – a stark contrast from what President Trump had tweeted earlier in the day. The slogans “Black Lives Matter” and “Without justice, there is no peace” echoed again in this city in the western United States, which has spent 63 days protesting the death of George Floyd. Late Thursday night and going into Friday morning, there were some protesters with makeshift shields, hockey sticks, and even leaf blowers to dispel the smoke from the gas pumps, which normally closed the day.
But there was no sign from the Western Oregon state police, which took over law enforcement duties following an agreement between the Trump administration and Gov. Kate Brown.
“What we want? Justice … When do we want it? Now! ”Protesters shouted in front of the federal court, the epicenter of protests in this city of 650,000 inhabitants. “We passed the 60 days and we are still strong,” said one of the organizers earlier as the protesters applauded.
The presence of federal forces in Portland inflamed the situation, especially after videos were released showing protesters arrested by agents in unidentified cars. The officers also dispersed the concentrations with gases, noise bombs, and pellets. Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said his officers would not wear riot suits like the feds, but would offer a “friendly” look that sought to change the tone of the protests in recent days in Portland.
“These Oregon state troopers are not easily provoked,” Hampton said in an interview with The Oregonian. “We hope for the best but plan the worst,” Hampton added, implying that they would respond with force if the situation deteriorates.
The tensest moment of Thursday night was when some protesters threw a couple of glass bottles and paint pumps at the already damaged court facade. Beyond that, the protest ended peacefully with no signs of police presence.