It's official: Mayor Charlie Hales and Police Chief Mike Marshman are done with anti-Donald Trump protests.
On Friday afternoon, Hales and Marshman called reporters to City Hall to decry rioting and property damage that had occurred in an anti-Trump demonstration the night before. But they were clear: The vast majority of people in the crowd Thursday were peaceful.
"It’s our city, and you have a right to protest, which we support," Hales said at the time.
That sentiment was largely absent this afternoon, when Hales and Marshman once again spoke to reporters about an eight-hour demonstration on Friday night that saw numerous clashes between police and masses of anti-Trump demonstrators. Now, Hales and Marshman are urging protestors to channel their energies elsewhere.
"If you are upset about the election of Donald Trump and you want change, there are ways to do that," Hales said. "They don’t involve taking to the streets with signs anymore."
In far stronger language than the day before, Hales said Portland has been "taken over, over the last three nights, by people who simply want to fight with police. Please stay home tonight, or better yet go out and participate in the life of our city as you would normally do on a Saturday."
Marshman, clearly weary of sending out Riot Response Team officers night after night to tangle with demonstrators, had a similar message to his boss.
"They're on the street, taking abuse from criminals... who have hijacked protest events," the chief said of his officers. "If you’re upset with the election, please do not come out and protest tonight.
"If you’re intent, though—if you’re one of the folks in the city who want to come out and battle with the police, who want to cause vandalism, who want to break the law—we will try and we will arrest you for that. We are done with criminal activity in this city."
Over the course of Friday's protest, Marshman says officers had bottles, rocks, and flaming objects thrown at them, inciting police uses of force that included tear gas, pepper spray, and repeated flashbangs to disperse the crowd.
And he's right, of course. Again and again last night, I witnessed small clusters of people who were bent on lobbing bottles and other things at cops. I also saw people being very proactive about stopping that activity. Like this:
Hales and Marshman weren't too interested in talking about the peaceable elements of last night's demonstrations today, though. Rather, Hales made a case that protesting Trump's impending presidency is no longer effective. Instead, he urged Portlanders to volunteer with "a host of organizations that are going to try to make a difference in the lives of Portlanders and of Americans in the next four years."
He mentioned the ACLU, Sierra Club, 350PDX and others.
I asked about a pretty stark shift in police strategy between last night and the two previous protests: That the PPB preemptively amassed its riot unit before any hint of trouble.
"There were anarchists and people in that crowd who are trying to stir up the crowd," said PPB spokesperson Sgt. Pete Simpson. "That's when decisions were made by incident command. It was a very precise strategic move so [demonstrators] knew exactly what they’d be dealing with."
It's anyone's guess whether there will be a demonstration for a fifth consecutive night tonight. Portland's Resistance, which has spearheaded actions over the past several days, has said it's taking a night off.
Also of note at this afternoon's press conference: Simpson announced that the PPB would be pursuing attempted murder charges against two of four people it detained early this morning, in connection with a protester being shot in the leg on the Morrison Bridge.
Simpson says the two suspects have "gang involvement." While some witnesses to the shooting told the Mercury the shooter took exception to protesters blocking the bridge, Simpson said: "It doesn't appear they were frustrated by that. It may be the case they were out looking for trouble."
Police recovered a semi-automatic pistol similar to a TEC-9 in the arrest, Simpson said.