Mayor on May Day riot: 'That's not political speech. That's crime'

Portland May Day riot aftermath

PORTLAND, Ore. -- What began as a peaceful march for labor rights on May Day in Portland turned violent as a group of self-described anarchists threw objects at officers and officers fired non-lethal weapons back. Police canceled the permitted march and deemed it a riot as tensions escalated. 

Portland police arrested 25 protesters, on charges ranging from arson to assault, criminal mischief and theft. All 25 suspects were cited for failing to obey a peace officer, and police said the arrests will be reviewed for additional charges.

"In Portland we respect peaceful protest, but we do not and cannot support acts of violence and vandalism," Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said Tuesday morning. "That's not political speech. That's crime."

"Last night was another chapter in a story that has become all too familiar in Portland: Protests that begin peacefully but devolve quickly due to the actions of those whose only desire is to damage people and property," he said.

“Unfortunately, yesterday, like we've seen in the past, a small group of folks hijacked a lawfully permitted event, and almost instantly started doing crimes and committing vandalism, breaking windows and setting things on fire. So, an unfortunate turn of events yesterday for the city of Portland,” said Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman. 

Three minors, ages 17, 17, and 14, were among those arrested (full list of names and charges below). All three were charged with riot and released to their parents.

Photos: May Day 2017 protests in Portland


Rallies began at noon and a march started at about 3 p.m. Portland police reported members of an anarchist group threw Molotov cocktails, fireworks, rocks, smoke bombs, a full Pepsi can and other objects at police officers, starting at about 4:10 p.m.

The Pepsi can struck a Portland Fire and Rescue paramedic, police said. 

Police first said protesters with children should leave the march, then told everyone to disperse.  

At 4:30 p.m. police said the permitted march was canceled as it was an "unlawful march" based on the violence. Police said anyone in the roadway was subject to arrest.

"Various fires were set in the street and in garbage cans, a police car was spray-painted and vandalized, and there were attempts to set at least one business on fire," said a news release from Portland police late Monday night. "Numerous projectiles were thrown at or launched at police and firefighters including rocks, bottles, ball bearings, fireworks, smoke bombs, and road flares."

Police fired non-lethal weapons at protesters, according to KGW reporters on the scene.

Protesters burned objects, including road cones and a Portland Tribune newspaper stand, in the streets. Riot police rushed at the protesters, detaining multiple people and extinguished the flames.

Police officially called the march a riot at 5 p.m. Many protesters could be seen detained, lying on Portland streets. 

"I want to thank the Portland Police Bureau for doing a tremendous job under very dangerous circumstances," Wheeler said. "They reacted swiftly and effectively to minimize incidents of vandalism and violence when they occurred."

Damage, including broken windows, was reported at multiple downtown locations. Windows were broken at Portland City Hall, the Gus J. Solomon U.S. Courthouse and Goldmark Jewelers.

Wheeler said he planned to reach out Tuesday to the businesses that were damaged. "They play a vital role in the economic life of our community and they have my support."

Officers seized a small slingshot from one suspect, along with "various materials" for ammunition, according to police.

Any business or person who was a victim of a crime during the riot is encouraged to file a police report by calling 503-823-3333 or filing a report online

Watch video of some of the damage

At 5:30 p.m., police said the situation was beginning to calm down. TriMet buses and trains started to resume normal service just before 6 p.m.

Sky8 video showed the streets mostly clear at 6 p.m., but some protesters gathered at the downtown Portland police building.

List of suspects

In addition to the three juveniles, the following suspects were arrested, according to police:

  • 21-year-old Ayden Michael Foster-Wysocki -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 18-year-old Madhab Pulle -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 37-year-old Tyler Hans Larsen -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 44-year-old Luis Marquez -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 20-year-old Grahme Meneses -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 22-year-old Jace Anthony Willis -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 42-year-old Corey Daniel Joe -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree and Assaulting a Police Officer
  • 19-year-old Brianna Borgen -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 34-year-old Rachel Visco -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 33-year-old Phoebe Loomis -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 19-year-old Michell Korin Myers -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 22-year-old Rylie Wolff -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 35-year-old Lucy Elizabeth Smith -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 38-year-old Glenn Allen Silbersdorff -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 28-year-old Christopher Fellini -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 24-year-old Frank Martinez -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree and Resist Arrest
  • 28-year-old Ian Lawrence Henderson -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 20-year-old Javier Ivan Reyes -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 34-year-old Dan Edward Wright -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree
  • 29-year-old Jeff Richard Singer -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree and Interfering with a Peace Officer
  • 24-year-old Taylor James Evans -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree and Interfering with a Peace Officer
  • 26-year-old John Barton Elliott -- Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree

Police were prepared for riot

Before the march, Portland police said they were prepared to make arrests like they have in the past. 

“Traffic officers will be helping escort the march through downtown," said Sgt. Pete Simpson with Portland Police. "We'll have other officers on bike and on foot."

They also had riot gear on hand just in case.

“We don't like to bring that out unless we have to," Simpson said. "Sometimes it's to let people know that are in the crowd that are intent on doing things like violence or damage, it's to let them know that we're there and we're not going to stand for that."

May Day protests began as peaceful rallies

There were three scheduled events in Portland on Monday. One, a permitted rally organized by the Portland May Day Coalition, started at Shemanski Park in Downtown Portland at noon. The march began at 3 p.m. with a scheduled end time of 5 p.m.

A rally at Portland State also began at noon. Those in attendance marched to Shemanski Park at 1 p.m. to join the larger rally and march.

Mid-day Monday, the scene was peaceful. Friends Marian Drake and Martin Anderson attended the Portland rally and watched from a nearby park bench as they held balloons supporting the International Workers Union.

"Things are so screwed up in this country. You've got a city right here that's full of homeless people and you've got a president ...whose budget is going to cut 40 percent to the EPA and end Meals on Wheels. We don't like those kinds of things," Anderson said.

Across the street, friends Josh Elms and Ryan Falck sported red scarves and carried small Soviet flags as they prepared to march in support of workers' rights.

Elms, a teacher's aide who teaches kindergartners how to read, said it was his first political rally and march and Trump's election drove him to participate.

"This is the first actual protest that I've participated in because this year, with the election, I was flummoxed," he said. "I could not believe that the election went the way it did. I do not have words."

A third event, being put on by the Anarchist Student Union, began at 1 p.m. at Shemanski Park. That group also participated in the 3 p.m. march. Their Facebook event page said they would march until 11 p.m.

Before the rally and march, Lili Elbe, a spokesperson for the Portland May Day Coalition, said the purpose of Monday's event was to show solidarity.

“We are here today to show support and solidarity with International Workers Day, it’s an international movement,” Elbe said. “We are here to show solidarity with immigrant movements, worker movements, indigenous, land reformation movements, the world over.

May Day marches in downtown Portland

Reporter Mike Benner is live in downtown Portland, where several groups are marching for May Day. Story: http://on.kgw.com/2qts14w

Posted by KGW-TV on Monday, May 1, 2017

“This has been a movement that has been building for decades. In the past few years we have seen steady growth, increase in discontentment from people who want to make their voices heard. We are here with about 60 organizations represented, different community organizations and national organizations."

Elbe also said before the march began that the May Day Coalition was aware of the anarchist group and believed the group was not planning to create mayhem.

“We are cooperating with them in an effort to make this event as safe as possible," Elbe said. "They aren’t here to crash our march, or to make anything else unsafe. They are doing their own thing."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

May Day rallies around the world marked by violence, demonstrations

Demonstrators with a laundry list of grievances rallied in New York, teachers picketed in Philadelphia and police in Paris fired tear gas to disperse angry political protesters Monday as May Day was marked with events around the world.

May Day, also known as International Workers' Day, annually prompts rallies highlighting workers’ rights. In the U.S., hundreds of thousands of demonstrators across the nation were expected to turn out, many protesting the policies of President Trump.

Photos: May Day events around the world

In New York, chants of “Sí se puede” and “the people united will never be defeated” bellowed through Union Square Park. Demonstrators came from across the nation to protest a variety of issues ranging from the Black Lives Matter movement and refugees, to climate change and the Puerto Rico debt crisis.

“We’re seeing a consistent awakening of people to the realities of the Trump administration," Bernadette Ellorin, 40, one of the event's organizers, told USA TODAY. She said Trump supporters and the mainstream media think of such efforts as "small and ineffective."

"If you study history it is these type of actions, the people marching on the streets, that actually make history," she said. "So this is our contribution towards making history, towards making change.”

In Philadelphia, the focus was more local for teachers who shut down a busy section of North Broad Street to protest the lack of a contract. About 1,000 of them skipped school, many taking personal time to highlight what they view as unfair working conditions, philly.com reported.

In France, scores of hooded youths threw firebombs at security forces as the country’s main unions drew a massive turnout for a “day of mobilization” against far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, the Associated Press reported. Le Pen faces a runoff election Sunday against centrist Emmanuel Macron.

VIDEO: Police, protestors clash in Paris May Day rally

In Russia, about 1.5 million people rallied in Moscow "but public order has not been violated," a city police spokesman told the state-run TASS news agency.

In Greece, thousands rallied in Athens against austerity measures that have increased working hours, cut salaries and weakened protections for workers. Speakers called for a general strike May 17.

"We are still fighting for eight-hour shifts, we are still fighting for permanent positions," marcher Christos Zarkinos told Anadolu Agency news service.

In the U.S., protesters were planning marches for issues ranging from immigrants' rights to LGBT awareness to police misconduct.

“There’s a real galvanization of all the groups this year,” said Fernanda Durand of CASA in Action, which will lead a march of about 10,000 people for immigrants' rights through downtown Washington. “Our presence in this country is being questioned by Donald Trump. We are tired of being demonized and scapegoated. We’ve had enough.”

Erick Sanchez, another Washington-based organizer, said he’s seen the melding of different groups in previous events this year, from the Women’s March on Washington to climate change awareness protests. Monday will be the culmination of gelling these disparate groups, he said.

“There’s really a sense that we’re in this together,” he said. “That an attack on one is an attack on all.”

Trump released a statement Friday declaring May 1 “Loyalty Day” as a way to “recognize and reaffirm our allegiance to the principles” upon which America was built, calling on all government buildings to display the U.S. flag and schools to observe the holiday with ceremonies.

Originally a pagan celebration dating back two millennia and heralding the return of spring, May Day has morphed into a global observance of workers’ rights. But its emergence as an international workers' rights day actually arose from a May 1, 1886, Chicago strike for the eight-hour workday.

Durand said her group will march near the White House and culminate with speeches from immigrants and elected officials. More than 200 immigrant-owned businesses in the area will also shut down, she said.

“We’re going to be able to show we are one voice, one people speaking for those whose lives are being trampled on,” Durand said.

USA TODAY reporters John Bacon , Eli Blumenthal and Rick Jervis contributed to this report.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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