As a citywide curfew approached, Portlanders gathered en masse on two sides of the Willamette River to protest police brutality against black citizens. One group gathered in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center, while another, even larger, marched through the leafy streets of the Laurelhurst neighborhood.
The marches were the largest in scale the city has seen in three nights of protesting the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Protesters are marching despite an 8 pm curfew renewed for a second night by Mayor Ted Wheeler. The numbers displayed a redoubled commitment to activism after Portland police on Saturday night cracked down forcefully on downtown protesters.
Police tonight have so far refrained from using force to clear the streets.
In downtown, hundreds of people pressed against a chain-link fence erected outside the Justice Center, which was set on fire Friday night—leading to the citywide curfew demonstrators now appear set to defy.
More than 2,000 people—young, masked and ethnically diverse—gathered in Laurelhurst Park around 5:30 this evening, then marched east on East Burnside Street, taking up the full width of the road. It was a surreal sight: protesters marching through one of the city's most upscale neighborhoods, past Starbucks takeout windows and homes where neighbors left bottles of water on the front stoops for refreshment.
At Northeast 47th Avenue, the protesters were met by riot police. "Walk with us!" they chanted at the cops. Some police officers took a knee and protesters cheered. But the officers were kneeling to don gas masks.
As the curfew approached, the crowd only grew.