Demetria Hester leads a group of Moms United for Black Lives march.
Demetria Hester leads a group of Moms United for Black Lives march. Mathieu Lewis-Rolland

Update — 8/18, 12 pm:

The Portland Police Bureau (PPB) has identified one of the suspects in the Sunday assaults as 25-year-old Marquise Love. In a morning press release, PPB said that investigators have not been able to locate Love, but there is “probable cause for his arrest.” PPB also noted that the truck driver has been released from the hospital.

"The Portland Police Bureau is taking this assault and other incidents of violence extremely seriously," said PPB Chief Chuck Lovell in a press statment. "Our detectives continue to investigate this assault as well as other acts of violence directed toward protestors, but we need more than just videos from social media."

Original Story — 8/17, 5 pm:

Two people were physically assaulted last night near a protest against police brutality in downtown Portland, with at least one sent to the hospital for his injuries. These incidents, all caught on video, were perpetrated by a small group of people who regularly frequent the nightly demonstrations. But longtime organizers with Portland's protests against racist policing say these individuals are not associated with the main movement—and believe their violence is tarnishing the message of Black Lives Matter.

"We want the public to know that we’re not those folks beating people up and robbing them," said Danialle James, a community organizer with the group Moms United for Black Lives. "It's a stain on the moment."

James has been protesting the death of George Floyd in Portland since May 27, and co-founded Moms United with fellow protester Demetria Hester in late July. The group attracted the support of the national Black Lives Matter movement last week.

James, Hester, and several hundred other protesters were demonstrating near of the Multnomah County Justice Center Sunday night when the assaults took place.

According to multiple witnesses who spoke with the Mercury, the Sunday incident began around 10 pm, when a group of five to ten people began assaulting a woman on the corner of SW Fourth and SW Taylor—about three blocks from the main protest.

Videos taken of the incident show the woman arguing with a group of people on the sidewalk outside 7-11, then someone grabbing her skateboard and backpack. She is hit and shoved by several others in the group. It's not immediately clear what initiated this assault.

Other videos capture a man attempting to deescalate the assault, but being told to leave. He eventually drives away, only to crash his truck near the intersection of SW Broadway and SW Taylor. Videos recorded after this crash show the same group of people pulling the man away from his truck and shoving him onto the ground. Another clip shows a man in a "security" vest violently kicking the truck driver in the head, appearing to knock him unconscious. That driver was treated by volunteer medics and eventually taken to a hospital for his injures.

Elisha Warren, another organizer with Moms United, said she saw the truck driving recklessly in circles around the main demonstration earlier in the evening, and was worried he was trying to intentionally hit protesters. It wasn't a baseless concern: Two weeks prior, another truck driver accelerated toward a crowd of protesters during a rally in North Portland, barely missing the group.

Yet Warren still condemns the aggressive attack on the driver.

"We don’t stand for what’s going on downtown," said Warren, referencing the numerous attacks by this specific group of protest attendees. "The violence with folks who are not with Black Lives Matter are taking away from the narrative."

This wasn't first time James and other longtime organizers had heard that this group of protest attendees had assaulted people—in the past, they've had to physically intervene or call 911 to stop these violent fights. James said she and other activists have tried to engage with the group's leaders about how their violence harms the community, but they aren't receptive.

Now, after watching right-wing activists pin Sunday night's violence on the Black Lives Matter movement, organizers with Moms United are worried that the actions of a few will undermine their months of non-violent activism.

“That violence—that’s not what this is about. This is falling back on us, when we had nothing to do with it," said James. “They’re out there assaulting people, and they’re expecting to be protected by supporters of Black Lives Matter... It’s embarrassing. It's shameful."

Several protesters called 911 last night to report the assaults. In a Monday press release, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) said officers are actively investigating both assaults.