Police officers late Friday surrounded a group of about 100 and charged 13 with crimes after a protest devolved into a riot.
Members of the crowd, wearing all black and chanting far-left slogans, broke windows at an apartment building and several other structures in the Pearl District neighborhood around 9 p.m. before they were surrounded.
The crowd ignored warnings to stop vandalizing buildings and disperse.
Officers blocked all exits from Northwest Marshall Street between Northwest 13th Avenue and Northwest 14th Avenue, the Portland Police Bureau said in an incident summary.
“The group was advised that they were being detained for investigation of crimes, they were not free to leave, and they should comply with officers’ lawful orders. Failure to comply may result in arrest or force being used against them to include, but not limited to, crowd control agents, impact weapons, or tear gas. Legal observers, press, and anyone who was medically fragile or anyone who needs immediate medical attention were invited to leave the enclosed area if they wished,” the bureau said.
“Those that were being detained were identified and photographed, as part of a criminal investigation, before being released. Some refused to comply and locked arms together in an effort to interfere with the investigation. Officers escorted them away and they were arrested.”
Additionally, a suspect in the vandalism that took place earlier in the evening was arrested and charged.
Among the items officers found inside the area, left behind by those who had been surrounded, was a crowbar, hammers, and a high-impact slingshot.
Thirteen people were charged with crimes including disorderly conduct, unlawful possession of a firearm, and resisting arrest.
More charges are possible.
Reporters and legal observers complained about the so-called kettling tactic and shared video footage showing them leaving or being forced to leave the perimeter police established. They were handed duct tape with their names on it to wear on their clothing. Some self-described reporters have participated in crimes during similar marches in the city.
“I was just forcibly removed from the scene by several [officers],” Maranie Staab, a freelancer whose work has been published Reuters, wrote on Twitter. “I am a credentialed member of the press & made clear I wantd (sic) to stay & report. I was dragged out, labeled w/tape & photographed. This was a deliberate action to prevent accountability.”
Two federal judges previously dismissed or advised tossing civil suits challenging kettling tactics used by Portland officers in 2017.
The Friday riot took place one night after dozens attacked the U.S. courthouse in Portland, which was the focus of sustained assaults last year. The attack followed the removal of a strong fence that had been erected around the courthouse to help protect it against rioters.
Portland is also dealing with a spike in shootings, prompting Mayor Ted Wheeler this week to request a one-time $2 million spend to boost law enforcement and other agency efforts in combating the surge. Police have on some days been unable to promptly respond to 911 calls because so many officers are tied up with responding to riots.
Wheeler and his office didn’t respond to requests for comments about the riots. Robert King, a retired police officer who advises the mayor on policy, told the Pearl District Neighborhood Association during a board meeting on Thursday that the mayor is “very aware” and concerned about a riot that unfolded the week prior.
“We’re aware of the event that’s been advertised for tomorrow. There are a number of other events that we also are aware of, in say the coming week or two. So we are focusing on ensuring we have staff necessary to conduct those operations, communicate more and better with people in the community,” he said.
Chris Davis, the bureau’s deputy chief, told the board that “your neighborhood has been one of the ones targeted for an inordinate amount of criminal activity related to civil unrest in the city over the last year.”
Davis said police plan a response based on whatever intelligence they’re able to get ahead of time. “That can be very challenging, especially with some of these more organized groups that have engaged in criminal activity,” he said, adding that if a crowd swells to 100 or more, “it becomes a lot more resource-intensive for us to deal with.”
As the riots have continued, police have been making more of an effort to arrest people engaged in crimes during the protests and riots, although Multnomah District Attorney Mike Schmidt has opted to dismiss many of the lower-level charges.