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Wm. Steven Humphrey

Update, 12:32 am:

The PPB livestream has gone quiet, the few dozen protesters that remain are doing another cycle around the Justice Center before likely breaking up for the evening, and our reporter is on her way home to start celebrating her birthday. For a second night in a row, these demonstrations have ended peacefully, which could indicate—along with tonight's news of the partial tear gas ban and the earlier announcement of changes that the mayor wants to make to the police force—a turning of the tide.

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To sum up the evening:

Two events happened simultaneously tonight, both as part of what was being called a "day of rest" for protesters. At Revolution Hall, 1,000 or so Portlanders spent a few hours listening to speakers—all of them people of color—who, one after the other, implored the crowd to not let the movement for justice end with police reforms and two weeks of marches. Downtown at Chapman Square, a few dozen moms were on hand, offering to "take the place" of the protesters while also telling their own stories of fearing for and supporting their children during this difficult time.

Eventually, the protest at Chapman Square took on the same tone as it has for the past two weeks, but with far fewer demonstrators and a far smaller police presence. The only drama of the evening was when a few protesters decided to cut away a section of the chainlink fence surrounding the Justice Center and cover it with a tarp. That raised the ire of the cops, who threatened arrest and munitions, but... nothing happened. The entire night was a stalemate, broken up only by a couple of quick marches around the Justice Center.

What this means for tomorrow is anyone's guess. There are already events on the books. At 1pm, there will be a press conference and rally organized by Care Not Cops and Don't Shoot PDX at Terry Schrunk Plaza to coincide with a planned city council meeting. And at 6 pm, a skateboarding protest is set to get underway at 7 pm, leaving from the Moda Center and heading along the waterfront loop. Beyond that, we'll have to wait until the morning to find out.

Thanks to everyone for following along with us again. We appreciate your support. Stay safe out there.


Update, 11:54 pm:

Well that was anticlimactic. The protesters did a march around the Justice Center only to return back to where they started. Not sure what the intention was with this move other than maybe keeping the police on their toes.

There was a little bit of drama along the way as police in riot gear were spotted in a nearby parking garage—all looking bewildered at having to now reckon with this new development.

And now... we wait...


Update, 11:33 pm:

Here's a twist to this story: Instead of the police making everyone in Chapman Square leave, the protesters have decided to do it on their own, with everyone marching en masse to... the back of the Justice Center building?

And the response from PPB? Not cool, guys.



Update, 11:16 pm:

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Well, at least we have a better look at what's going on in front of The Fence, courtesy of the PPB's livestream.

Watching the livestream is a combination of exciting and boring as hell. Earlier it was a static shot of the street leading up to The Fence. At a certain point, the first 90 seconds of Public Enemy's "911 Is A Joke" could be heard over the broadcast, which was apparently coming directly from the cops as our reporters on the ground couldn't hear it. Now they have moved on to the roof of the Justice Center filming the assembled masses and letting us hear the chants of "War Crime Wheeler" and calls for a fresh battery for the camera. Shame that they don't save these broadcasts for posterity because there's some fascinating Lacanian analysis that could be done about them.


Update, 10:58 pm:

Things are definitely getting heated down at Chapman Square. According to the PPB's livestream someone has breached The Fence and, as their loudspeaker announcement continually reminds us, is now subject to arrest.

They're asking nonviolent demonstrators to skedaddle, as well, which is usually the first step toward shit going down.


Update, 10:41 pm:

The rumors are true, Julie Christie—someone cut a hole in The Fence.

As our Alex Zielinski reports, this still hasn't resulted in any arrests and, so far, the police have yet to declare the situation as a "civil disturbance" or "unlawful gathering" as they have done every other night since these protests began. Instead it appears that the police are circling Chapman Square.

Stay tuned, friends.


Update, 10:20 pm:

Here's the conundrum of live blogging: Do we want shit to go down so we have stuff to report on or do we want things to be calm so no one gets hurt?

Anyway, things heated up for a brief moment around the Justice Center as the cops are claiming that someone is cutting into The Fence. That led to their first loudspeaker announcement of the night, which in turn helped stir the assembled protesters up a bit.



Update, 9:47 pm:

A quick note from one humble member of the Mercury's editorial team to the current news cycle: Slow the fuck down!

My head is spinning tonight. An hour or so ago, the news broke that, for at least 14 days, the Portland Police won't be able to indiscriminately use tear gas to break up the protests going on in the city. Then came word a few minutes ago that the city will be removing the plywood enclosures that they had built to protect City Hall and the Portland Building.

Initially, city officials asked for the plywood walls to be constructed to stop protesters from tagging the outside of the buildings. But, as Portland's Chief Administrative Officer Tom Rinehart said in a press release, "[We] need to put our relationship with the community first. The City of Portland is open for civic engagement – especially now. We need to hear our community’s demands for racial justice, even when those demands take the form of spray paint.”

While it's a sad day for those folks that rushed to create parody Twitter accounts for the City Hall Wall... we'll still have The Fence. Our dear, sweet Fence.


Update, 9:32 pm:

While the protests tonight in Portland have been quiet affairs, the ongoing demonstrations in Seattle are anything but. According to several reports, including those of Jasmyne Keimig from our sister publication The Stranger, protesters are now occupying Seattle City Hall, thanks to the help of city councilmember Kshama Sawant who opened the doors for them.

Your move, Portland.


Update, 9:22 pm:

The rally at Revolution Hall has come to a close but not before some extremely powerful, damning words from both the speakers and the late Marvin Gaye, whose song "What's Going On" made for a perfect coda to the evening.

Down at Chapman Square, the crowd has grown to ~600 people, but the atmosphere is more of a downtown hang than a loud protest. According to our reporter on the scene, there's no police in sight.



Update, 8:41 pm:

The breaking news of the hour is that US District Court Judge Marco Hernandez has granted the motion for a temporary restraining order on the use of tear gas by Portland Police. The ban will be in place for at least two weeks. In his decision, he writes that "tear gas use shall be limited to situations in which the lives or safety of the public or the police is at risk." We'll update you on this story as it develops.

Meanwhile, the crowd at Chapman Square is growing larger by the minute for another night of protests.

Many of the folks already there are moms, who are on hand (some with their kids) to speak out against police violence and racism and, again, give the regular protesters a night off. And in speaking with our Alex Zielinski, they're revealing some powerful, passionate stories.

At Revolution Hall, speakers are continuing to speak their truth, relaying stories of the racism they've experienced in their lives and expressing some dismay that it took the death of George Floyd to get the world to finally speak up against police violence and inequality.

Another piece of positive news that arrived in the world today: Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain Black teen Trayvon Martin, will be running for Miami-Dade County Commissioner this November!



Update, 8 pm:

As it was last night, the rain and cold hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of the Portlanders who have been protesting for the better part of two weeks. An estimated 1,000 people are at Revolution Hall, filling up the lawn around the former high school as speaker after speaker takes the microphone to urge our suburban neighbors to join these ongoing protests and hope that this is only beginning of a mass movement for a more diverse Portland.

Across the river at Chapman Square, around 100 people are milling about, led by a group of moms who have been called to, as Alex Zielinski reports, "take up space, allowing kids/protesters to rest for a day."

Meanwhile, in the commonwealth of Virginia...



Original post:
Another night of protests and rallies is upon us, following a day of truly remarkable developments in the world of law enforcement around the country.

In New York, state legislators voted to overturn 50-a, the statute used in that state to hide records of officer misconduct and discipline from the public. Governor Cuomo has indicated that he will sign the repeal. In DC, the district council passed measures to stop the police force from hiring officers with a history of misconduct and require the city to more quickly release the names of officers that use force on citizens. And nationally, Democratic members of Congress are proposing legislation that would ban chokeholds and make it easier to prosecute cops for misconduct.

Underpinning all of this was the funeral of George Floyd, held today in Houston, Texas, which featured remarks from Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Houston's mayor Sylvester Turner. Also in attendance were family members of Breonna Taylor, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner—three other Black Americans slain by police.

The effects of this mass movement are starting to be felt here in Portland as well. On top of the decision yesterday by Jami Resch to step down as the city's top cop, Mayor Ted Wheeler announced major changes for the Portland Police Department. The plans are to disband the Gun Violence Reduction Team, which investigates shootings in the city, and the Transit Division, which puts cops in charge of responding to violations and incidents on TriMet's buses and trains. (Click here to read more on the decision to end the Transit Division from our own Blair Stenvick.)

Wheeler is also looking to ban chokeholds and change the policy surrounding consent searches during traffic stops. In addition, the mayor wants to use $12 million to support communities of color, with $7 million of that coming from the police budget. All very positive steps, but, as our Alex Zielinski reports, just a sliver of the many changes that the City Council is going to consider in the weeks to come. All of this will surely be part of the conversation when the city votes on the Portland Police budget tomorrow at 2 pm.

If that weren't enough, US District Court Judge Marco Hernandez heard oral arguments from citizens suing the city for the use of tear gas on protesters. While the plaintiffs, which includes advocacy group Don't Shoot Portland, were hoping to get a decision on this matter today, the judge decided he won't issue a ruling until tomorrow.

What does all this mean for tonight? At this point, it's hard to say. The different groups organizing these nightly events have declared a "day of rest," encouraging protesters to stay in one place rather than marching through the city. That's exactly what's happening right now at Revolution Hall. The grounds are full of people, but speakers are encouraging them to relax and, as this man on the mic says, "prepare for what's ahead."

Whatever does end up happening tonight, we'll be reporting on it once again. Our own news editor Alex Zielinski and freelance journalist Andrew Jankowski will be out tonight keeping on eye on the events of the evening. Follow along with us here—I'll be updating the blog regularly with their reporting. Stay tuned.