PORTLAND, Ore. – After a third straight night of anti-Trump protests turned into a riot Thursday night, Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman called on protesters who’ve remained peaceful to take Friday night off, which would allow officers to deal more directly with self-proclaimed anarchists who damaged and vandalized the city.
“We don’t want the lawful protesters mixed up with the criminal anarchist movement that will likely show up tonight,” Marshman said in an interview with KGW News partner KXL on Friday morning.
“If they could just take a day off from protesting, figure out how to vent their anger elsewhere, that’s going to help us directly confront -- if we need to -- the anarchists if they’re bent on doing more criminal activity tonight,” he said. “It’s very, very hard for us to go into a crowd of a couple thousand people and arrest one or two bad actors.”
Protest organizers said there were no plans to march Friday night, but a 5 p.m. rally was planned at City Hall to discuss future protest efforts.
Another protest was scheduled to start in the Park Blocks downtown. Organizers did not say whether they planned to march.
Marshman said some peaceful protesters from the group Portland's Resistance were in contact with police during Thursday night’s violence, and doing their best to prevent other people from committing crimes.
“Last night when a small – that’s all it takes — a small group of anarchists hides themselves within the crowd, a crowd of thousands, and as you saw on the news footage, just do blatant vandalism and criminal activity, that’s just way over the line, that’s not lawful, and we’re not going to simply put up with that anymore,” said Marshman.
Marshman also talked to KGW about why police weren't more aggressive with the anarchists.
"What I don't want to do is have the police show up and take that already high sense of emotions and crank it up even more," he said. "Last night we were hoping it would go the way it went the first [two days]. When it didn't then, we can in and started using our tools we have but it's hard when you have a crowd of 5,000 or so, when you have a small handful embedded in there. It's hard to arrest the correct people without inciting more of a problem."
During a news conference Friday afternoon, Marshman said the police bureau encouraged people to exercise their First Amendment rights. He asked protesters to get permits, and pledged to help them organize routes for peaceful marches.
"I wanted folks in Portland to voice their concerns. By and large, Wednesday night that did occur. Thursday night, not so much," he said.
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, who was also at the news conference, called this a "Terrible, difficult week with a lot of people who are angry." He encouraged people to express their feelings safely.
"This is a national political moment that people here want to speak about. That has to stop short of doing something dangerous," said Hales.
Marshman said he estimated the cost of police staffing and damage cleanup to be over $1 million.
City, state leaders condemn violence
Hales, Oregon Governor Kate Brown and Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler on Friday morning released statements about the violence.
All three said criminal acts have no place in peaceful protests.
Statement from Governor Kate Brown
"Oregon has a proud and strong history of civic participation, protest, and advocacy. It's part of the Oregon way to make our voices heard, but the right to peacefully assemble should not be clouded by attempts to instigate lawlessness.
"I commend our law enforcement officers and local leaders for preserving peace and keeping our communities safe. What defines and distinguishes us as Oregonians and Americans is our willingness to come together to work through our challenges. We must do so now, following the election and looking forward to the future."
Statement from Mayor Charlie Hales
"I'm saddened by the destruction of our public spaces and local businesses caused by rioters. Although the majority of over 4,000 protesters last night were peaceful and followed Portland Police safety instructions, anarchists shut down these voices by spreading violence and fear.
"I'm thankful for the decisive actions taken by the Portland Police Bureau to help separate violent dissenters from those assembling peacefully; mitigate damage to public and private property; safely direct motorists; employ de-escalation tactics and restraint in use-of-force; and appropriately deploy arrests for criminal activity. I also want to thank state and local law enforcement agencies and transportation departments for assisting Portland Police in these efforts.
“Last night's violence is not a reflection of Portland values. We will continue to support and advocate on behalf of women and people of color. We will continue to welcome our Muslim brothers and sisters, immigrants and refugees. We are Portland, a community that believes in equity, inclusion and openness. That will not change."
"Riots and violence in our streets are completely unacceptable. I hope that all Portlanders will help our local small businesses recover. I know in Portland we are a community that believes love conquers hate -- let's be that example for the nation. We are all hurting and need to come together as a community to heal -- as Portlanders and as Americans."
Statement from incoming mayor Ted Wheeler
"Peaceful protest is foundational to the history of our nation and of our community. The freedom of assembly and expression is a cornerstone of our Democracy.
"Last night, what started as a peaceful protest ended in violence and vandalism. While this was caused by a small group of people among thousands, such a conclusion is unacceptable. None of us – protesters, business owners, or the community at large – can afford for this to happen again.
"People are hurting. The best response to pain is healing. People are scared. The best response to fear is peace. Portland is an example to the nation, indeed the world. Let’s make that example an unequivocally positive one. We can all help.
"Some people are volunteering to clean up. Others are pledging to support the local businesses that were impacted. If your group is planning to protest, the Police Bureau requests that you communicate with them for everyone’s safety.
"I encourage all of us to use our time to become more engaged with our neighbors, to congregate together in our parks, barbershops, coffee shops and places of worship and meditation. Make a point not just to listen, but to understand.
"Portland is a city for everyone. Everyone should be welcome here. Everyone should be safe here. These ideals only matter if we can continue to live them in the toughest of times. We must live them now."