Portland, Oregon, devolved into conflict again on Friday night as a protest in the city ended in mass detention.
A protest march began at about 9 p.m. Police told the crowd to either disperse or face arrest, as the group was blocking traffic. The crowd marched on.
There were reports that protesters broke windows as they moved through the city’s Pearl District.
At about 9:20 p.m., police announced that they had established a perimeter around the group and would detain everyone within it, in a technique known as kettling.
I’m withs a protest in Northwest Portland. Portland Police have detained an entire city block. pic.twitter.com/sNPqqLWbR8
— Suzette Smith (@suzettesmith) March 13, 2021
In a news release, Portland police said protesters “were advised by loudspeaker that the street was open to vehicular traffic, but the crowd continued to march in the street.”
“At about 9:15 p.m., at Northwest 15th Avenue and Northwest Overton Street, some in the crowd began breaking windows (photo). Officers moved in to address the criminal behavior,” according to the release.
“The group was advised that they were being detained for investigation of crimes, they were not free to leave, and they should comply with officers’ lawful orders,” the release continued, noting that members of the media, legal observers and those with medical conditions were allowed to leave.
“Failure to comply may result in arrest or force being used against them to include, but not limited to, crowd control agents, impact weapons, or tear gas.”
Protesters had to provide their names and birthdates as they were released one by one. Police wrote the information on duct tape, gave the pieces of tape to protesters to place on their chests and then photographed the demonstrators before allowing them to leave.
Police said that some protesters refused to obey “and locked arms together in an effort to interfere with the investigation.”
“Officers escorted them away and they were arrested. A suspect in the earlier window vandalism was arrested and charged,” the police release added.
Officers recovered objects that could have been used as weapons “including a crowbar, hammers, bear spray, slugging weapon with rocks, high impact slingshot, and knives.”
Police said protesters began to get violent in response to law enforcement and officers were forced to intervene.
“As the event unfolded, groups formed on the outside and physically challenged officers. Some threw rocks and full cans of beer at officers (photo). Officers deployed some OC (pepper) spray and one impact munition. Arrests were made, including two suspects carrying firearms, wearing body armor and helmets,” the release said, noting that 13 people were arrested and charged with crimes.
The technique of kettling is controversial in Portland.
Mayor Ted Wheeler has said he does not approve of the practice being used on protesters, but will not ban it, either.
“If kettling is to be used as a technique it has to be well-planned and well-trained for,” he told The Oregonian.
“What I think we should do is have an open conversation with all of our law enforcement partners and legislative leaders about which tools are appropriate and how to best use them,” he said.
“I’m not saying kettling should be off the table, but I think we should have a conversation about how we should use it as a tool and use it appropriately should we decide to use it.”
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