PORTLAND -- Police said there would be an internal review after pepper-spray was deployed during the height of Thursday's N17 protest in downtown Portland.
Just before 4:30 p.m. police used pepper spray on several protesters--for the first time since the protests began October 6--after a protracted standoff with protesters at the Chase Bank at 6th and Yamhill near Pioneer Square.
Video: Pepper spray used
The conflict began when about a dozen protesters filled the revolving doors leading into the bank. A large group of mounted police responded and blocked access to the bank. After a large number of protesters gathered, spilling into the streets, police used a public address system to announce that the street would be reopened and would have to be cleared.
Shortly, the pepper spray was used and several protesters could be seen washing their eyes afterwards.
Earlier in the afternoon, about 10 protesters were arrested at the Wells Fargo Bank on SW5th Avenue. Police in riot gear took up positions inside the bank branch and arrested protesters who gained access to the inside of the bank.
Over twelve instances of pepper spray at point blank range targeting people on the sidewalk were documented, said David Osborn with N17 movement.
One of those people was Elizabeth Nichols, who was photographed by Oregonian Photographer Randy L. Rasmussen as she was pepper-sprayed (above).
When (an officer) backed off I started yelling at her, Nichols said. And then all of a sudden in the middle of me yelling, That's no way to treat a protester or anybody, they ended up just spraying me with pepper spray. Just full blast.
One of KGW s photographers was also caught in the middle of the scuffle and was sprayed.
Immediately your eyes just shut, said photographer Jon Gudgel. And you feel them watering up and your nose starts gushing out and you're incapacitated, you can't do anything.
Osborn said the group also documented several injuries
Two people were stepped on and pushed down by police horses. At least six people were beaten with batons by the police, he said. Seven people were injured from impacts with police bicycles.
Osborn said one more person suffered a back injury and another was hospitalized with leg or hip injuries.
KGW spoke to another protester who identified himself as Dusty. He said he was among the protesters in the revolving door blocking entry to the Chase Bank, and that he was one of the protesters hit with pepper spray.
When asked if he thought the police used excessive force, Dusty said: Yes and no. They have an extremely hard job I can't imagine what it would be like to have slurs yelled at them and have middle fingers shown at them.
Portland Police Lt. Pete Simpson said police had three goals Thursday: Manage whatever happened downtown, manage any direct action at a bank, and maintain police operations throughout the entire city of Portland so that anyone who deserves police resources gets the help they need.
Police and city officials Friday morning had not commented on accusations of excessive force. But they did say protesters shoved officers and horses during the clash, and they made nearly 50 arrests.
Chief Mike Reese told KGW Thursday that dedicating police forces to recent Occupy Portland-related protests had diverted resources away from fighting crime. So far, responding to Occupy Portland protests has cost the city of Portland $750,000 in overtime costs.
Chief Reese: 'Occupy' diverting resources from crime
A small child was also placed in the middle of chaos of the Thursday protest when a man walked up to the front of the police line and sat down, holding a toddler in his arms.
Photo courtesy: Denis Theriault / Portland Mercury
The Bank of America branch at SE 122nd Avenue and SE Stark Street was briefly chained shut while the protest was happening downtown. A man was reported fleeing the scene, and firemen responded with bolt cutters and cut the lock free.
On Friday, several downtown branches reported that their ATM machines had been vandalized, one of them, the Bank of America at 1001 SW 5th, with glue poured into the card slot.
The protests had lasted more than ten hours by the time pepper spray was deployed. Police closed the Steel Bridge early Thursday morning to ensure mass transit wasn't affected by a group of protesters who gathered there, according to spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.