UPDATE: PPB Releases Information About Demonstration Decisions and Response

September 24, 2019 14:34


The Portland Police Bureau is providing additional information about some of the actions taken and decisions made on Friday, September 20th during a demonstration on climate change. There are comparisons being made between the September 20th demonstration and the August 17th demonstration and this information release is intended to clarify the differences between the events.

The Police Bureau staffs all events to the best of its ability by trying to anticipate crowd size, propensity for violence, street closure needs and other factors. The demonstration and march on September 20th was entirely different in composition and should not be compared with the August 17th demonstration. Each demonstration event is unique in nature because they are comprised of different individuals, resources, and environmental factors.

Prior to the August 17th event, despite there being no permit outlining the event, PPB anticipated a very large crowd size, including groups who threatened violence. The Bureau made the decision prior to the event to work with Multnomah County and other partners to close the Hawthorne Bridge for a number of public safety reasons. The Bureau had time and resources to plan for this closure and warn the community ahead of time. During the event, one group reached out to liaison officers saying they wanted to leave downtown and their transportation was on the other side of the bridge. A decision was made by the Incident Commander to de-escalate the situation and temporarily open the bridge to foot traffic to allow that group to cross the bridge so they could leave and decrease the opportunity for physical clashes. This was not a predetermined decision.

Planning for the September 20th event began with the permitting process, which included a march on the bridge's sidewalk. The plan was for the event participants to gather in Terry Schrunk Park and then march to OMSI.

Demonstration events are very challenging to plan for and manage, especially when the crowd size is unknown or greatly outnumbers the best estimates provided. The actual crowd size the day of the event far outnumbered the estimated crowd size provided (approximately 3,000-5,000) by the event organizer and crowd sizes from prior similar events. Several busloads of youth from out of town arrived in downtown for the event and there was no advance notice to PPB that this was going to occur. A very large number of local students left school to attend this event as well.

Since there were more demonstrators than estimated, and for public safety reasons, the Incident Commander authorized Southwest 4th Avenue to be closed in front of City Hall to increase safety. Other streets were temporarily closed as well. When the march began, the Incident Commander also authorized a traffic lane on the south side of the bridge to be closed so the marchers could use this traffic lane to cross safely. Including the sidewalk, this was the equivalent of two traffic lanes designated for the march. This was an operational decision made to accommodate the large crowd size with the resources PPB had available. There were not enough resources to conduct a full bridge closure.

Thousands of participants crossed safely without engaging in dangerous or criminal activity in the process. A few individuals were engaged in dangerous activity and were given repeated orders to stop. All but one of these subjects complied. See prior release for further details about the arrests.

Officers take action with the intent of reducing the reliance on force, such as giving verbal commands and delaying custody, as evidenced in this case. An individual's actions combined with environmental factors, such as a bridge with moving vehicles and a very large crowd size, are elements the officers have to take into account for everyone's safety. In this situation, while in a dangerous position, the individual involved did not comply with repeated verbal commands and resisted arrest. He was under arrest and the crowd pulled him back in and away from officers. Officers completed the arrest when they were able to when the time, tactics, and resources were available to do so. Resisting arrest is against the law.

This was an event with thousands of juveniles and very little supervision from adults. The police officers assigned were trying to accomplish many goals, including keeping the participants and the public safe while allowing for the exercise of free speech and assembly. Closing streets has many impacts, including economic and life safety impacts. For example, if medical crews need to get to a patient, a road closure can cause a delay in emergency care. Closing a bridge is even more complex, with Maritime regulations that address navigation on waterways. If a closure needs to be made during an event, it takes resources and time to make it happen.

Prior to the event, PPB liaisons were in touch with event organizers and clear direction was disseminated to the public about expectations, such as following the lawful orders of police officers. The expectations and goals are similar to those outlined in other demonstration events. The event organizers worked with PPB liaisons and the peacekeepers did a proactive job in helping keep the event safe.

The Portland Police Bureau's Directive, 0635.10 Crowd Management/Crowd Control can be found at: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/649358

Per policy, all applications of force are thoroughly reviewed. The Portland Police Bureau's Directive, 1010.00 Use of Force can be found at: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/police/article/647779

Complaints or commendation for Portland Police Bureau member's actions related to this event or any other incident should be directed the Independent Police Review at (503) 823-0146 or at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/ipr/

"We value our relationships with young people and I am very proud and thankful to the thousands of youth who participated in the event on Friday in a peaceful and safe manner," said Chief Danielle Outlaw. "As a parent, I support and encourage civic engagement by our young people. Unfortunately, a few individuals demonstrated behavior that warranted law enforcement action and that is taking away from the message thousands gathered to showcase. It is important for youth to be aware the law applies to everyone, which is why we communicated with event organizers prior to and during the event with our liaisons and with public messaging. Like any event, we have a review process and will be assessing what went well and what can be improved upon for future events."



Questions have arisen about the arrests made during the Climate Strike demonstration today, and this is an effort to address those concerns by providing more context.

Officers observed the suspect identified only as "Jake" using spray paint to apply graffiti to the Hawthorne Bridge. He was arrested a short time later, resisting officers' attempts to take him into lawful custody. His true identity is being investigated.

A short time later, officers saw a small group of marchers climb up onto the bridge supports separating the outside lane, where marchers were lawfully allowed to be, and the inside lane, which was open to vehicular traffic. Officers asked the marchers to get down and stay in the marching lane, and all but one complied. After numerous requests, orders, and warnings that he would be arrested, the marcher still refused to get down. He was observed leaning out into the traffic lane causing vehicle drivers to abruptly apply their brakes. Officers were concerned about the extremely unsafe circumstance and saw arrest as the only option. When they moved in to arrest the juvenile, a group of people pulled him away from officers. Officers let him go, but followed him until he was in a safer location. There, they moved in and arrested him. During the arrest, another juvenile attempted to interfere again and he was also arrested. Neither was injured. After the arrests the juveniles were returned to the custody of responsible adults.

Safety is of utmost importance to PPB, and it is a common tactic to delay arrest to a time when it is safer. It's an attempt to avoid a flashpoint and avoid the risk of having to use force.

Also, these were a few selective arrests inside of a large scale event involving thousands of people spanning several hours. We are sincerely appreciative of the vast majority of participants who were entirely peaceful as they exercised their free-speech rights.

### PPB ###


On Friday, September 20, 2019, a rally and permitted march occurred in downtown Portland. Several thousand participants gathered in Terry Schrunk Plaza and marched down Southwest Madison Street across the Hawthorne Bridge.

Event organizers worked with PPB demonstration liaisons to facilitate a safe and peaceful event.

There were three arrests during the march. An individual vandalized the Hawthorne Bridge and was arrested. During the arrest, the subject fought with officers; a takedown was used and pepper spray was deployed to effect the arrest. There were no injuries from this event. This subject identified himself as "Jake" (PHOTO) and he was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center for Criminal Mischief II and Resist Arrest. Several weapons were seized from his backpack (PHOTO).

Two 17-year-old juveniles were arrested for Disorderly Conduct II and Interfering with a Police Officer. They were processed and released to responsible adults and the cases are being referred to the Multnomah County District Attorney's Juvenile Division.

One participant was pepper sprayed by another participant and was treated by medical personnel during the event. The suspect who used pepper spray was not identified.

The Bureau posted updates and released two video from the Public Information Officer on its Twitter feed, which is @portlandpolice.



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