Mayor Ted Wheeler wasn't kidding: Portland protesters of President Donald Trump aren't going on the freeways tonight. Or the bridges, for that matter.
In a sharp break from previous hands-off approaches to political demonstrations, the Portland Police Bureau under Wheeler has effectively shut down anti-Trump protests tonight, using blockades, pepper spray and stun grenades to keep demonstrators contained to a dozen blocks downtown.
Police deployed stun grenades and smoke bombs shortly after 8 pm near Pioneer Courthouse Square.
A march that began with 5,000 people in Pioneer Courthouse Square dwindled over two hours to several hundred. Heavy rainfall played a role—but so did riot police, who blocked access to the Morrison, Burnside and Steel bridges before protesters got within earshot.
Police soon began clearing protesters out of Tom McCall Waterfront Park, calling the protest an "unlawful assembly." They cited protesters throwing ice balls and eggs as a reason for the show of force.
In Waterfront Park, the police tone shifted, from standing firm at the bridgeheads to actively trying to corral protesters westward.
Wheeler's approach tonight appears to mark a sharp change from the actions of previous mayors Sam Adams and Charlie Hales, who allowed mass marches to move freely across the city before police moved to end them in the wee hours of the morning.
Organizer Gregory McKelvey, who led protesters across bridges in November after Trump's election, was livid tonight.
"I gave the city so much," he wrote on Twitter. "No freeways. No blocking of transit. The response? Children beat in the streets & peaceful protestors gassed."
Protest organizers with Portland's Resistance tell WW they are ending the march early.
Organizer Jacob Bureros says protesters planned to take two loops around the city, then stop marching. But he says that plan is cancelled, because police have not allowed them to peacefully protest.
Even getting out of downtown has become a difficult proposition: Police have boxed in protesters and reporters from at least three directions.