PORTLAND, Ore. -- Leaders at Portland International Airport say they will not allow another large protest to take over the terminal.
On Jan. 29, a gathering to protest President Donald Trump’s immigration order grew to more than 1,000 people. Airport leaders said the protesters scared some passengers and made it impossible for some employees to work with loud chants and noise inside the terminal. Some protesters clashed with counter-protesters at the rally.
Next time the airport will try to keep protesters outside the terminal in a special protest zone.
“At this point in time it will be on the upper, outer roadway and we'll set up a space where folks can protest or demonstrate peacefully and they're still very visible to airport travelers. It’s under a covered area it is outside the terminal however,” said spokesperson Kama Simonds.
The airport also wants protesters to get a permit, which is free. Security will allow groups of 10 protesters inside. Bigger groups will be kept outside, according to Simonds.
Will protesters follow the plan? One leader says no.
“We don’t need a free speech zone. America's our free speech zone. Especially under the Oregon constitution, Oregon is our free speech zone. And anywhere in Oregon we're going to be able to and continue to express our first amendment rights,” said Gregory McKelvey a founder of the group Portland's Resistance.
Simonds said if protesters violate the rule they will be given a lawful order to leave. If they refuse, she said, it will be up to police to decide the next step.