A group of black-clad activists spent Wednesday afternoon protesting the inauguration of President Joe Biden and clashing with police officers in Portland's inner east side.
The event had no formal organizer, but was advertised on social media with a flyer reading: "Fuck the state. Fuck Biden. Land back. Fuck 12." By 2:30 pm, around one hundred people—many of whom had participated in recent racial justice protests—had gathered outside Revolution Hall for the planned demonstration.
The event was interrupted by a group of 12 Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers on bicycles before it even began. The officers' presence drew anger and frustration from those who had begun to gather. Some officers began asking participants if they had weapons on them.
An officer who only identified himself by his last name, Jones, told the Mercury that PPB was on the scene because the event had been shared on social media by a local activist group called PNW Youth Liberation Front.
"Their events always end in violence," Jones said. "We just wanted to come and see what was going on... if people had weapons.”
PPB officers confiscated at least one homemade banner protesters had brought to the event, explaining that it could be used as a weapon. According to a PPB press statement, officers also confiscated a knife from a member of the public.
Officers begin to leave: pic.twitter.com/wIK33gkMNM
— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) January 20, 2021
The officers' interference only upset the crowd, drumming up shouts of "all cops are bastards" and "fuck 12" from those in attendance. One officer got in what appeared to be a tug-of-war fight with a protester over a PPB bicycle. The officers eventually left the area, but not before shooting a canister of chemical irritant into the crowd.
The confrontation also inspired protesters to leave Revolution Hall, marching west down SE Stark with chants of "Fuck Trump, fuck Biden too, none of them give a fuck about you." After arguments over where to march, the group eventually looped north, pausing in front of the NE 9th and Everett headquarters for the Democratic Party of Oregon. Several attendees spray painted and smashed in the building's windows and a glass door before fleeing the area. The activity drew several people out of a nearby homeless encampment. One camper yelled at the group, “Now [the police] going to make us move! We live here!”
A scuffle just broke out. Bike cops jump on a person, seem to be arresting them on the ground. pic.twitter.com/eJ1avzsCzN
— Alex Zielinski (@alex_zee) January 21, 2021
The afternoon march ended with a final confrontation at a parking lot along the northeast corner of Buckman Field, where a physical clash between a group of police and protesters ended with at least two arrests. According to PPB, officers continued to make "targeted arrests" of people suspected to be involved in vandalism after protesters dispersed.
The day's demonstrations are expected to continue into the night. At 8 pm, protesters are expected to gather in Southwest Portland's Elizabeth Caruthers Park and march to the nearby US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building to protest.