Blair Stenvick

Update, 12:28 am:

The crowd of protesters has thinned out considerably, with a small contingent of diehards remaining at the fence around the Justice Center. Some have been trying to provoke...something by throwing water bottles over the fence, but have been shouted down the peaceful protesters around them and admonished by the police loudspeaker.

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The good news is that the protest was a calm one tonight—a welcome change after police indiscriminately tear-gassed the throng of people around the Justice Center (including our two reporters on the scene), arrested dozens of people, and nearly ran over a handful demonstrators a police cruiser yesterday evening.

We're going to call it a night here at Mercury HQ, but like the thousands of protesters that have taken to the streets over this past week, we'll be back again tomorrow.

Update, 12:07 am:

There are still hundreds of protesters holding strong at the Justice Center with no end in sight and nothing worrisome to report. At least, that was the feeling until the police made this announcement over their loudspeaker;

Keeping a close eye on things.

Update, 11:25 pm:

The protesters clearly planned for the worst tonight (gas masks, umbrellas, leaf blowers), but they're doing what they can to make sure the demonstration doesn't reach to the levels of insanity that it did last night. Case in point:

Update, 11 pm:

Nothing much to report at this point. The Liason Officers have returned to the fence to talk with demonstrators. So far, the police have done nothing to disperse the crowd, but our reporters are noting that a chunk of the crowd have left the area. Things are... peaceful.

In other news, someone set the contents of a dumpster on fire near 4th and Oak, providing Portlanders with a visual representation of what this entire year has felt like.

Elsewhere in Oregon, another protest against police brutality went down in nearby Happy Valley earlier this evening.

Update, 10:24 pm:

Calm before the storm right now. Police loudspeakers reminded the protesters that there were children among them. KGW livestream showed PPB's Demonstration Liason Officers talking with the protesters at the fenceline. Pretty much a waiting game at this point.

Since she was probably too humble to share it herself, allow me (Robert Ham) to encourage you to read my colleague Blair Stenvick's beautiful op-ed about these ongoing protests and how police have responded to them. Here's a sample:

But last night, we saw the limits of this comfortable narrative of a peaceful protest. PPB fired off rounds of tear gas indiscriminately at large groups of protestors, only a handful of whom (if any) allegedly provoked the response. They fired from behind as people were running away. They roughed up a local journalist. They sped a vehicle through downtown streets so fast that they almost ran people over. To further exhaust an already tired metaphor, police officers made downtown Portland feel like a war zone—which is, incidentally, the opposite of peaceful.

I’d always assumed that the English word “peace” comes from the Latin word pax. But my friend Wikipedia tells me that we English speakers actually started using the word “peace” in the 1300s as a translation from the Hebrew word “Shalom.” “Shalom” is most commonly known as a greeting that can mean both “hello” and “goodbye”—but it has a deeper meaning for people of faith. At its heart, “Shalom” means whole, complete, and of healthy body and mind.

If we take “peaceful,” then, to not simply mean “without physical violence,” but also “whole and complete,” then we never had a chance at a peaceful protest. Because America—including and perhaps even especially Portland—is not whole or complete or healthy for Black people and other people of color.

Update, 10:06 pm:

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Another large group of protesters have arrived at the Justice Center, adding to the numbers already there. As with the last few nights, it's just a standoff at this point—though a much brighter one as the police have installed huge floodlights that are illuminating the streets around the fence.

While you're here, take a minute and watch this powerful testimony from one of the protesters, captured by journalist and friend of the Mercury, Sergio Olmos

Update, 9:42 pm:

The group marching over the Burnside Bridge are turning around and heading toward the Justice Center to support the hundreds of protesters that are already gathering there.

Update, 9:34 pm:

Watching protesters at the fence near the Justice Center talking to a cop on the KOIN livestream.

Police officer: "I don't want to hurt any of you guys but not everyone has good intentions."

Tweet from Portland Police is claiming that the group on 3rd and Jefferson is engaging in "criminal activity."


Update, 9:19 pm:

The gathering at Waterfront Park has apparently split up, with some protesters heading home over the Morrison Bridge, another group going to the Justice Center, and another group heading to Burnside Bridge.

Meanwhile, another big protest is happening in Eugene.

Update, 9:08 pm:

The rally at Waterfront Park is breaking up, as they are encouraging protesters to go meet up with a group of activists marching over the Burnside Bridge. Stay tuned.

Update, 8:45 pm:

E.D. Mondaine, president of the Portland NAACP chapter, is speaking at the waterfront now:

Oh, look, the Clackamites (a genius term I just invented) are at it as well!

Oh, and apparently there's a small demonstration happening in Pioneer Courthouse Square right now, too.

Update, 8:30 pm:

Waterfront VIBE CHECK:

Here's a view of the crowd:

And a view of the speakers. There's apparently a much better sound setup today, so people can actually hear what the speakers are saying. And what they're saying is....

Update, 8:15 pm:

They've reached the waterfront! And it's such a lovely evening:

Important note from Tuck: "99% of protesters are wearing masks or bandanas. Consistent with other nights."

PS: Here's a screenshot from KGW's livestream, showing just how extensive the crowd was on the Morrison Bridge:


Update, 8 pm:

Our Alex Zielinski attended a press conference where PPB discussed which tools it uses during a protest, and why. The whole thread is worth a read, but here are the main takeaways:

Meanwhile, tonight's crowd is starting to move off the Morrison Bridge, toward the waterfront:

Update, 7:40 pm:

We're hearing that the march stretches from one end of the Morrison Bridge to the other. The crowd is paused on the bridge, doing chants and listening to speakers. Per Tuck, one speaker is talking the crowd through what it’s like to be pulled over as a Black man. “Sir, put your hands up. Don’t move. Let me see some ID. Why are you reaching? I fucking dare you to breathe.”

“They didn’t want us to read," the speaker adds. They didn’t want us to write.”

Update, 7:30 pm:

The crowd marching from Revolution Hall has arrived on the Morrison Bridge:

They'll make their way to the waterfront next.

Update, 7:02 pm:

We interrupt our previously scheduled Portland protest coverage to bring you this dispatch from Vancouver, Washington, courtesy of KOIN:

Update, 6:50 pm:

After a night of heavy police use-of-force, PPB calls for a peaceful protest:

Meanwhile, the ACLU of Oregon has sent a letter to Oregon mayors, city managers, and chiefs of police calling for an end to the use of tear gas, flash bangs, and other indiscriminate weapons against protesters.

"Tear gas, a weapon banned in war, has no business being used in our streets with such abandon as we have seen by officers throughout Oregon, especially in Portland, Eugene and Salem," reads the letter. "We have heard complaints of tear gas harm from a wide range of people, including media, legal observers, children and other peaceful protestors. We have also heard particularly alarming accounts of people in the unhoused community being hit with tear gas while they are sleeping. Police militarization is killing and severely injuring Black people. This must end."

Update, 6:35 pm:

Like last night, a crowd of thousands has gathered at the park by Revolution Hall in Southeast Portland. Their plan is to cross over into downtown—and this time, their final destination is the waterfront.

From the Oregonian:

Our Mercury on-the-ground team is heading to the waterfront to meet up with the protestors.

Original Story:

Unless you've been quarantining in the woods with no internet or TV access, you should know by now that Portland—and other cities all across America—have seen massive protests against police brutality and racism this week, spurred by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

We've been covering the last four nights of protests, which have been a mixture of inspiring, largely non-violent crowds, some looting and property damage, and a heavy police response. Last night, that police response seemed to reach a tipping point with indiscriminate tear gas and other troubling uses of force. Today, some members of Portland City Council criticized the Portland Police Bureau's (PPB) tactics, and suggested some reform measures.

Now, we're on to our sixth night of protests—and sixth night of protest coverage from the Mercury. Tonight, the Mercury's Wm. Steven Humphrey (Steve, if you're nasty) and freelancer Tuck Woodstock will be our eyes and ears on the ground, and Blair Stenvick and Bob Ham will be posting live updates here. Stay tuned!

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