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Alex Zielinski

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler's office has confirmed that only one person—a police lieutenant—reported that a milkshake thrown during a Saturday protest in downtown Portland might have contained quick-dry cement. Despite the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) publishing a mid-protest tweet Saturday stating this concerning claim as fact, there is no physical proof to substantiate this unnamed lieutenant's allegation.

In a media call, Wheeler's police liaison Robert King explained that midway through the Saturday clash, a PPB lieutenant "saw a powdery substance that appeared to cause some irritation [when in contact with skin]." The lieutenant also said the milkshake smelled similar to wet concrete, a smell they were familiar with from "having worked with concrete before."

According to King, this was the evidence that PPB used to inform a tweet alleging that "some of the milkshakes thrown today during the demonstration contained quick-drying cement.”

Although the city has no additional evidence to support this claim, King says that PPB's decision to fire off this tweet without confirming its validity was responsible, and an "operational necessity."

"We’re committed to sharing as much information as possible," said King. "Even if suspected, sharing that in an abundance of caution for our community is a responsible step."

With this logic in mind, it's unclear why PPB did not share any information about confirmed threats of violence observed Saturday—whether it was people engaging in fist fights, spraying bear mace, or every silly-stringing each other. Or why, during an August 2018 protest, the PPB did not immediately tell the public about stumbling across a cache of guns.

PPB has not clarified or deleted its initial tweet about the cement milkshakes. Meanwhile, nearly 14 thousand people have retweeted the claim, including CNN's Jake Tapper, Senator Ted Cruz, and conservative talking head Ann Coulter. The proliferation of this rumor—paired with the news of anti-fascist protesters beating up right-wing writer Andy Ngo—has again brought a negative national spotlight on Portland.

Three people were arrested during the Saturday protest for crimes ranging from second-degree assault to harassment. King said PPB detectives are investigating Ngo's attack.

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Mayor Wheeler, who also serves as Portland's police commissioner, has not spoken publicly about PPB's actions. He did post a few tweets this afternoon condemning violence.

Popular Mobilization, the activist group who concocted Saturday's vegan milkshakes, has published their recipe online. According to spokesperson Effie Baum, the group handed out no less than 750 milkshakes to attendees—which were both consumed and tossed at people.

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