Portland, Oregon, police offices debuted a new set of tactics Monday night, controlling protests before they turned violent and arresting suspected “anti-fascist” operatives when the smaller march threatened destruction.
The techniques took Portland’s protest movement by surprise, Oregon Lives reports, and left some demonstrators angry and confused, as an increased number of black-clad marchers ended up in police custody.
Portland’s neighborhoods have suffered from ongoing unrest since late May. Until late August, though, much of the violence and destruction was contained to Portland’s city center, with a federal courthouse as rioters’ top target. There, protesters tangled with an elite group of Customs and Border Protection Agents sent in to protect federal property.
After the Department of Homeland Security withdrew their troops, protests moved to Portland’s residential neighborhoods, and Portland’s police department has been struggling to contain the unrest, often waiting until a demonstration becomes destructive before beginning the process of clearing streets and detaining individual marchers.
Over the weekend, violence came to a head, protesters clashed with police and “dozens” were arrested “amid the protests in Portland included one juvenile and people from outside of Oregon, including California, Canada, Minnesota, Washington, and Texas, the Multnomah Co. Sheriff’s Office said Monday,” according to Fox News. The confrontations triggered Oregon’s Democrat Gov. Kate Brown to press Portland law enforcement to investigate “any alleged incidents” involving officers for signs of police brutality.
Monday night, the Portland Police struck first, declaring a planned march to a police administration building “unlawful,” moving through the protesters’ camp, and confiscating materials typically used in riots.
“Several dozen Portland police moved on protesters gathering in a North Portland park Monday night even before the group started marching,” Oregon Live reported Tuesday. “The armored officers swept through the park, confiscating homemade shields and other articles. A scuffle broke out when officers tried to confiscate a picket sign that read “vote,” multiple videos from the scene showed, and at least one person was detained. Police also deployed pepper spray.”
The raid delayed the march and splintered it into smaller, more manageable factions. When demonstrators eventually regrouped, police immediately declared sidewalks and public roads off-limits. Eventually, Portland police declared the march an “unlawful assembly” and began arresting those suspected of inciting violence.
“Twenty-four people were ultimately arrested. The vast majority are accused of interfering with a peace officer, disorderly conduct, or both charges,” Oregon Live added.
Although the scene became chaotic, for the first time in several weeks, protesters were unable to set the police administration building on fire.
Oregon Live notes that Portland police expect that all 24 individuals arrested will be back on the street Tuesday night, given that the Portland District Attorney will not prosecute protesters for small crimes like “interfering with a peace officer” or “disorderly conduct.” In some extreme cases, Oregon State Police, also involved in nightly crowed control, can refer certain protesters for Federal prosecution — as The Daily Wire earlier this month, the Oregon State Police were deputized by DHS — but those cases are rare.