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Warning: Videos contain strong language
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Police Bureau is analyzing multiple videos and a still image of the police response to a protest on Sunday, Sept. 10 in Portland, following a widely circulated video that shows an officer throwing a distraction grenade near bystanders during an arrest.
The bureau is using these videos to review the protest and the police response to the protest, which started as a peaceful rally and March Against Hate in downtown Portland and ended with seven arrests. The rally intended to counter a nearby demonstration by the right-wing group Patriot Prayer.
At about 1:40 p.m., police officers detained one woman who was at the March Against Hate.
Video taken by filmmaker Paul Kachris-Newman shows an officer throwing an incendiary device toward him, as he films the arrest.
Cop threw flash at me. He aimed for unmasked independent press. No warning. Deliberate. Hit camera/chest. Reckless and dangerous. Fire him. pic.twitter.com/jIWNg4Njz7— Village to Village (@v2vfilm) September 12, 2017
“He aimed for unmasked independent press,” Kachris-Newman wrote. “No warning. Deliberate. Hit camera/chest. Reckless and dangerous.”
That device was a Rubber Ball Distraction Device, which creates a loud “boom” and shoots out rubber balls. According to Portland police spokesman Sgt. Chris Burley, the device is used to move people away from officers.
Burley explained the device was used after protesters threw objects at police.
“During this incident officers took an uncooperative subject into custody and were quickly surrounded by a group of protesters,” he said. “As officers attempted to take the person into custody, several objects were thrown at officers.”
Burley said the incident is under review but the officer may well be within his legal right. The officer has not been placed on leave.
“In order to protect fellow members’ safety and life, an officer may deploy tools such as the Rubber Ball Distraction Device,” Burley said.
The police bureau is reviewing multiple videos and images of the arrest, including the video shot by Kachris-Newman.
Another video shows a protester throwing a wooden stick toward officers.
An image (pictured above) Burley provided to KGW shows a protester holding the stick before it was thrown.
A third video shows protesters throwing an open water bottle and an unidentified object at police.
A five-minute-long video shot by Doug Brown at the Portland Mercury shows police spraying protesters as officers arrest two protesters. A person off-camera throws what appears to be a bottle of water at the officer. The protester with the stick throws the item at an officer, who immediately throws the distraction device back toward that protester. A short time later, an unidentified item is thrown at the police.
Officers then create a wider parameter around the arrests using their bicycles. Other officers in riot gear, holding batons, start to move the crowd further away from the arrests. The officers threaten to arrest anyone who doesn’t move. Brown asks, “What crime did I do?” He does not receive a response from police.
Burley said officers informed protesters multiple times to back away before throwing the distraction device.
Burley also said the smoking device visible in some of the videos was not placed there by police.
“As I viewed the videos, some of the observations I made included at least three items being thrown at and two of those items striking officers, some type of smoke device smoking in close proximity and to the east of the officers – this smoke device was not deployed by officers,” he said.
Burley said another protester tried to take an officer’s bike.
Police are also using officers’ reports to review the police response.
“Sometimes a video cannot capture the entire context of what occurred,” Burley said. “Once I have access to the officers’ reports I believe there will be a better understanding of what the officers were experiencing at Southwest 3rd and Southwest Salmon Street.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler released the following statement about the incident: “We were clear about our expectations prior to Sunday and followed through on them. Our goal was to protect everyone’s right to assemble while also protecting everyone’s lives.”
Incoming police chief Danielle Outlaw will not be sworn in until Oct. 2. She has not released a statement about the incident.
Burley said it is standard policy for police response to be reviewed following any protest in the City of Portland.