Mayor Hales to Black Lives Matter protesters: Your fears are legitimate

Black Lives Matter protesters storm City Hall

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Hundreds of demonstrators marched from Northeast Portland across the Burnside Bridge and packed City Hall Friday to protest the use of police officers in Portland and Gresham schools.

The "No More Sidelines" protest was organized by Don't Shoot Portland and others who want trained educators to handle school discipline, rather than school resource officers.

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"Let's get the numbers on this so we can have a serious voice in this matter," organizers said on the group's Facebook page. "Parents being killed, jailed and children bearing witness in this country will not end soon. We can at least provide a safe environment for learning without the reintroduction of trauma."

Protesters gathered at Vanport Square in the 5200 block of Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at noon and had moved south to Russell Street by 2 p.m.  

Police in riot gear kept the group from moving west on Broadway.

At 2:30 p.m., the group moved on to Lloyd Center and marched through the mall, chanting "Black Lives Matter." By 3 p.m. the group was marching across the Burnside Bridge, where they briefly staged a "die-in."

They moved across the bridge and began marching through downtown, briefly stopping on TriMet MAX tracks at Southwest 6th Avenue and Morrison Street at around 3:45 p.m.

Protesters marched into and filled the hallways of City Hall at around 4 p.m. chanting "Wake up, Portland" and "Let us in" at Mayor Charlie Hales' door. 

Some protesters vandalized a conference room, writing profanity on tables and walls.

An hour after demonstrators arrived at City Hall, Mayor Hales' Chief of Staff spoke with protesters and told them that if they wanted to meet with the mayor, he would address them in chambers. However, protesters refused the offer and said they wanted Hales to come to address all of the protesters in the hallway.

Protesters also blocked exits so that officials wouldn't be able to leave the building without first addressing them.

Shortly after, city officials told protesters to leave the building because it was closed and that if they didn't leave they'd be trespassing. However, protesters remained in City Hall waiting for the mayor.

Hales addressed protesters briefly at about 6 p.m., telling them their voices are being heard. 

"Number one, Black Lives Matter," Hales said. "I believe that. They matter to me and they matter to a lot of people in this city."

He specifically cited hearing reports of potential police misconduct during the protest and said he would investigate those reports.

"I'm not trying and convicting anyone right now but I heard some things that are disturbing," he said.

Hales told protesters that he has worked to reform policing in Portland during his tenure as mayor. He recommended protesters meet with him and the chief of police at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, to voice their concerns.

"Your fears about what might happen on the streets of Portland are legitimate. What's happened in the rest of the country should not happen here," Hales said.

Following his short speech, protesters chanted "the people united will never be divided."

Raw: Mayor Charlie Hales speaks with protesters


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