We want Hales! And not in the campaign sense!

The chants that have rung through downtown corridors, over city bridges, and through the Pioneer Place mall since the decision not to prosecute Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson found a new venue this afternoon: The 3rd floor of Portland City Hall, right outside of Mayor Charlie Hales' office.

Hales had invited leadership from the group Don't Shoot Portland for a discussion about recent, sometimes-violent clashes with officers, police reform, institutional racism and whatever else came up. But it wasn't clear the mayor's staff was prepared for the dozens of demonstrators who showed up, all expecting an audience.

When Hales' chief spokesman, Dana Haynes, explained the mayor could only meet with a segment of the group, who could then relay the details of the discussion, chants like "We want Hales" and "Why not us?" joined standards like "I can't breathe" (a reference to the final words of New Yorker Eric Garner), reverberating through the hard, marble halls of power.

Hales never did come out, but what looked for a moment like potential bedlam settled into a productive—or at least largely cordial—meeting. Mayoral staffers ushered several shifts of demonstrators to meet Hales and his chief public safety policy adviser, former Portland cop Deanna Wesson-Mitchell, and also allowed people to livestream the meeting.

As chants ebbed, then flourished again, outside, discussion within Hales' office touched on recent protests. The mayor was there to listen, he said, and to "troll for ideas and suggestions."

"We’re serious about police reform and we’re working on things, but we’re not sure we’re working on all the things that need to be worked on."

Some people were aggrieved that police had lobbed concussion grenades at protestors two Saturdays ago, and faux-arrested demonstrators in a police kettle.

Others asked why the mayor wanted to appeal a recent settlement agreement on police reforms ("We want it real clear that I'm accountable for the police bureau"), why he hasn't created an independent citizen commission to oversee cops, and what he's doing to make sure police don't brutalize people of color. On that last point, Hales acknowledged that institutional racism is alive and well, and found himself defending the $56,000 racial sensitivity training he sent 16 white male managers to at a golf resort this summer.

"I took some lumps in the press," Hales told demonstrators, urging them to "take a look at what White Men as Full Diversity Partners does." ("Bullshit," someone said.)

One young man spoke of America's long history of racial oppression. "It's almost like we're at a point where we need to destroy and rebuild," he said.

Hales said no. Reform is the key. "I do believe that reform is possible, and actually that’s why I’m here. While I’m here, and in the system, I'm going to try to make it better.”

It wasn't entirely clear, when all was said and done, that anyone felt a whole lot better, or that anything would change, though many demonstrators thanked the mayor for his time and attention. And, as Denis pointed out: This would seem to be a fairly unique step among mayors in major cities.

There are intentions of keeping the dialogue going—potentially for as long as six months.

"Let's meet again, please," Hales told Teressa Raifford, one of the principal leaders of Don't Shoot Portland. "Not necessarily here."