PORTLAND, Ore. -- City commissioners called Wednesday’s protest and subsequent six arrests "a turning point."
The crackdown came at the hands of dozens of Portland police officers, who came decked out in riot gear, after an estimated 50 protesters marched through the city’s downtown core, shutting down multiple intersections, before being barred from entering the Portland Building, where a city council meeting was scheduled to get underway.
When asked how the city’s decision to shut down access to the building made him feel, one protester, who refused to give a name, simply responded with “anger.”
About 10 protesters then made it their mission to block others, not involved in the demonstration, from entering the building.
“If we can’t get in, ain’t nobody getting in,” he said. “So, all these workers have to go in through a whole other side of the building.”
After trying to push his way in, one man was put in a chokehold.
The woman, Lucy Smith, who police say performed the chokehold, has been charged with strangulation and assault.
In less than 30 minutes, police moved in.
“We have people ready to go out there and manage it,” said Sgt. Pete Simpson. “I think it's disheartening to see one member of our community be attacked and choked by another member of our community who often portray themselves as peaceful protesters.”
The demonstration centered on the shooting death of 17-year-old Quanice Hayes, who was shot and killed by a Portland Police officer in February.
The shooting came after, investigators say, Hayes committed a series of armed robberies and reached for his waistband when police told him to put his hands up. Police say they found a replica gun next to the teen’s body.
Hayes was laid to rest Wednesday morning.
Mourners then gathered at the Multnomah County Justice Center, before marching to the Portland Building, where Hayes’ grandmother had planned to address the council.
“She believed she was going to be able to do so, that her name was signed up to testify,” said James Krane. “She was the first person here, and they turned her away.”
“At no time, did they seek justice for Quanice Hayes,” said his mother, Venus.
In what protesters say was a coincidence, the ordeal came on the same day that Mayor Ted Wheeler had promised to implement stronger penalties for those who disrupted city council meetings.
Citing an ordinance passed earlier this month, Wheeler promised to, after one warning, remove unruly or disruptive people from meetings, and if necessary, arrest them.
On Thursday, two senior city commissioners said they were glad to see the mayor and police cracking down.
“To the extent the protesters want to come in, be civil, they want to testify for or against something, they're more than welcome to,” said Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “But we're not going to let them intrude and be rude to us and the public.”
“When a small number of people come to council and they disrupt the meeting, then what they're saying is their voice is more important than everyone else's voice. And democracy doesn't work that way,” said Commissioner Nick Fish.