PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) – Rain did not stop crowds of protesters, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Jo Ann Hardesty, the first African American woman to serve on Portland's city council, from gathering to march peacefully across the city again on Friday to mark the ninth night of demonstrations in response to George Floyd's death.
The protests into Friday night were peaceful, but late Friday night, a crowd of several hundred protesters grew rowdy near the Justice Center, with reports of protesters throwing ball bearings, batteries, bottles, flares, and fireworks at law enforcement.
It’s not just water bottles. These are the items that are being launched at officers. Bricks, glass bottles, blades, ball bearings, mortars and batteries. At high speeds, these items can be deadly. These officers are trying to protect 400 people inside the Justuce Center. pic.twitter.com/FVJmaNcOpf— Multnomah Co Sheriff (@MultCoSO) June 6, 2020
Portland Police Chief Jami Resch tweeted a photo of an improvised explosive that she said had landed at the feet of Portland police officers. She said fireworks, lit flares, and projectiles had been thrown and launched by slingshot at officers.
This improvised explosive landed at the feet of some of our officers. Thankfully the fuse went out. Fireworks, lit flares, and projectiles thrown and launched via sling shot were targeted at police. pic.twitter.com/yOPr974nSZ— Jami Resch (@ChiefResch) June 6, 2020
Others in the crowd tried to incite officers in other ways, including shining a laser at someone looking through binoculars on top of the building and officers driving a sound truck. Others in the crowd dangled donuts over the barricade.
Portland police just after 11 p.m. declared the protest outside the Justice Center a civil disturbance and an unlawful assembly.
"Everyone must leave the area now or be subject to use of force to include crowd control munitions," police tweeted. "The area of SW Lincoln to W Burnside, Naito to Burnside is now closed. Leave now."
Officers deployed past the fence line near the Justice Center after reporting additional violence, pulling their guns at one point and shining lights at protesters. Police confirmed officers had been injured.
Law enforcement said protesters pushed through a fence near the Justice Center despite multiple warnings to disperse, leading law enforcement to deploy smoke first and then pepper spray.
"There are approximately 400 people inside the Justice Center," the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office tweeted. "We're legally and morally responsible for their health and safety."
Earlier Thursday, protests had increased focus on Breonna Taylor, a young woman shot to death when police officers conducted a raid on her home in Kentucky. Taylor would have turned 27 on Friday, prompting groups of protesters to sing happy birthday to her. Some organizers throughout the night compared the ongoing protests to the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, describing it as an incredibly powerful moment in history.
Wheeler before marches started on Friday prohibited Portland police from using the sonic warning tone on its Long Range Acoustic Devices during protests. Later Friday evening, FOX 12 crews spotted Wheeler with protesters across from the Justice Center at Chapman Square.
Police overnight on Thursday used the warning tone in an attempt to deter protesters. Lt. Franz Shoening said the decision to use the tone is up to the discretion of the person operating the equipment.
"If the sound truck operator and the supervisor feels like things have gotten dangerous enough where they need to use that as a defensive means of stopping the violence they’re seeing toward them, they’ve got the authority absolutely to defend themselves," Shoening said.
Shoening said the LRAD is generally used to communicate with crowds of protesters and not to emit the high-pitched sound that Wheeler prohibited.
Wheeler while at Chapman Square spoke to the crowd about education after hearing frustrations from protesters. He said he was there to answer their questions and to make meaningful reform.
"Education is the single most important thing all of us can do for our society, and the City of Portland will make and has made investments in education and we will push the state to further fund education, and we will focus those resources on communities that have been disproportionately impacted by negative educational outcomes," Wheeler said through a loudspeaker.
Other speakers at Chapman Square called for the abolition of Portland police. The crowd later sang happy birthday to Breonna Taylor.
On Friday evening, several thousand protesters also gathered again at Revolution Hall, with organizers providing the crowd with water and snacks before leading the march across the Hawthorne Bridge to the waterfront. Indigenous communities also gathered in solidarity for a Black Lives Matter protest at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Both groups demonstrated peacefully on Friday evening.
Protest leaders at Pioneer Courthouse Square said it was a big deal for the Native American community to gather, as the group has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group played music and danced before marching to the Burnside Bridge.
Protesters at Revolution Hall also sang happy birthday to Breonna Taylor before marching across the Hawthorne Bridge. While crossing the bridge, marchers waved signs and chanted for justice.
Breonna Taylor would have turned 27 today. Nearly three months ago, she was shot to death when police officers conducted a raid on her home. Just now, this crowd sang happy birthday in her honor. #Portland #pdx #protest #BreonnaTaylorBirthday #BreonnaTaylor @fox12oregon pic.twitter.com/qT5nDKAjcg— Bonnie Silkman KPTV (@BonnieSilkman) June 6, 2020
Once at the waterfront, the group heard from speakers including Jo Ann Hardesty. Hardesty held 27 seconds of silence in honor of Taylor, receiving huge cheers from protesters later as she shouted, "a revolution has started, do you hear me? People at City Hall tell me I talk too loud."
Hardesty before leaving told protesters not to stop.
The crowd also heard from a 10-year-old boy. The boy said that as an African American, he wants to be able to go through life without a target on his back.
FOX 12 before the group started marching spoke with an organizer at Revolution Hall in charge of food distribution about what it means for him to participate in the marches.
“This experience for me has been like, it’s been very emotional … for someone who doesn’t really trust police ever, and has had experience with unfair situations with police, I find myself crying of happiness, because I feel like there are good people out here actually making a difference … it’s mainly peaceful, the leaders are very, very down-to-earth, and I’ve never felt more like a family unit than I have with them,” the organizer said.
The organizer said the food is donated and goes to medics and organizers to pass out to protesters throughout the night. Organizers said they are trying to be more organized and want marches to remain nonviolent.
Protests have remained largely peaceful throughout the week, with FOX 12 crews capturing several moments of solidarity and cooperation between protesters and law enforcement.
The City of Portland late this week asked shop owners to help them assess damage done to businesses due to protests.
Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard joined crowds of several thousand on Thursday evening to march from Revolution Hall across the Morrison Bridge. Lillard walked arm-in-arm with protesters, helping lead the way to the Portland Waterfront, where the crowd continued to swell. That gathering ended around 10:30 p.m., with some members moving to join another group near the Justice Center that later started taunting officers and throwing projectiles at them.
Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.