Democrat Mayor Ted Wheeler spoke out after protesters spent the night outside his Pearl District home.
OPB reports Portland protesters on Wednesday night followed in Seattle’s footsteps and attempted to build an autonomous zone in the city. That effort, however, was broken up by police.
Unlike Seattle, where protesters cordoned off multiple blocks around a police precinct evacuated during the protests, demonstrators in Portland barricaded off two blocks in front of what was said to be Mayor Ted Wheeler’s apartment building.
According to videos posted online, a group of protesters arrived at Wheeler’s NW 10th Avenue and Glisan Street apartment early in the evening where they set up tents, played music and blocked the streets.
Shortly before 11 p.m., the modest crowd swelled in size as a few hundred protesters arrived from the Multnomah County Justice Center, the epicenter of nightly protests against police brutality and racism for the past three weeks.
With live music, chants and laser pointers lighting up the largely dark apartment building, protesters set about erecting barricades on the blocks around the building. It was a considerably smaller area than the community built in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Seattle’s zone has drawn considerable ire from right wing media and President Trump, though reporters in the area have described it as a peaceful gathering.
At 11:30 p.m. Portland protesters had named their area the Patrick Kimmons Autonomous Zone, after a young Black man who Portland Police Sgt. Garry Britt and Officer Jeffery Livingston shot and killed in 2018.
By 1 a.m., elaborate barricades had been erected. But in the early hours of Thursday morning, police moved into the area, declaring it an unlawful assembly. Portland Police estimated about 50 people were in the area when they dispersed the autonomous zone.
“We are asking residents in this area stay inside their residence and shelter in place,” the police bureau wrote on Twitter. “Officers are clearing the closed area. Arrests are being made.”
A statement from the police bureau later said they made one arrest.
“No CS gas was used by Portland Police Bureau members during this event. There was no force used to disperse the crowd,” the bureau said in its written statement on the dispersal.
Television crews on scene showed officers and crews cleaning out the street barriers by 7:30 a.m. Wheeler told Fox 12 he was not home last night during the brief occupation.
“I am proud of our PPB officers and command staff who carefully and safely dispersed this unlawful assembly,” recently-appointed Police Chief Chuck Lovell said in a written statement. “The actions taken by some to barricade City streets and begin the creation of an autonomous zone caused great concern for public safety. Emergency responders need to be able to respond to critical life safety calls. There are acceptable ways to express first amendment rights and this was beyond the threshold for what is acceptable for Portland.”