PORTLAND, Ore (AP) — Thousands of protesters marched for the seventh consecutive night Thursday in Portland, Oregon to decry the death of George Floyd.
NBA Portland Trail Blazer star Damian Lillard walked at the front of the crowd arm-in-arm with young demonstrators as they crossed the Morrison Bridge over the Willamette River and walked to a large riverside park for a rally and speeches. Hours later, a smaller group gathered outside the Justice Center but also remained largely peaceful, police said.
Around 1:30 a.m., after most protesters had gone home, several hundred people remained downtown and set fires, engaged in street-racing, threw projectiles and pointed lasers at officers’ eyes, according to the Portland Police Bureau. Officers used a sound device that emits loud, high frequencies to deter those people. Twelve people were arrested, according to police.
“For another night, thousands of peaceful demonstrators were able to demonstrate, march, and express their first amendments rights in a safe manner. We thank them once again for managing a successful event,” said Police Chief Jami Resch. “We will continue to facilitate free speech and assembly and focus efforts on arresting those who engage in criminal activity that reduces our public safety.”
At a news conference on Friday, Mayor Ted Wheeler said the money saved by taking school resource officers out of Portland’s schools would be funneled into programs and initiatives to support the city’s underrepresented residents.
He also said in response to a question that he would never completely defund the Portland Police Bureau, but said “everything was on the table” to bring equality to Portland’s black community.
“I’ve committed to do anything I can and that includes for people like me being willing to cede both power and privilege. So I would argue that everything is on the table in the pursuit of equality and justice,” Wheeler said.
“I’m willing enough to be humble, I’m willing to be in a listening mode rather than a speaking or reactionary or defensive mode and I truly … want to do what is in the best interest of this community.”
Wheeler attended a protest Friday night, telling demonstrators that wanted to hear demands directly, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. He said earlier in the day he had ordered a directive, with the police chief’s agreement, that police would no longer use the sonic device and also said he did not like tear gas.
“I think it’s ugly and it’s not focused enough,” he said. “The city of Seattle today, late this afternoon, banned the use of tear gas for 30 days except in limited circumstances. We should do the same.”
He said he and his colleagues would make an announcement about tear gas on Saturday.