The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon tonight intensified its criticism of the Portland Police Bureau's treatment of protesters under Mayor Ted Wheeler, decrying the violent arrests at today's downtown marches.
"Today, Portland Police Bureau policy led to violence against peaceful protesters including young kids and retired public employees," the ACLU of Oregon wrote in a statement on Facebook. "It was shameful."
The ACLU chapter has criticized the bureau's militarized response to protesters before, including a statement last week. But today's arrests—conducted on the sidewalk, with riot police tackling and shooting projectiles at protesters—seemed to mark an escalation of police tactics approved by Wheeler's office. It comes even as protesters and police grow increasingly polarized in the wake of the fatal shooting of black Portland teenager Quanice Hayes on Feb. 9.
Wheeler's office declined to make an immediate comment.
Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson says the arrests came during a march that didn't ask for city permits—and that a second march this afternoon, which was permitted, occurred without incident.
"It's discouraging to the Police Bureau that we have to respond to events that so easily could be held in a manner that does not require a police response or a minimal response to help facilitate a permitted use of city streets (like the second event held today)," Simpson said in an email.
"We certainly understand that not everyone agrees with police presence or response to protest events," he said. "We encourage people with commendations or complaints about officer conduct to send them to the Office of Independent Police Review."
The bureau issued a statement saying that it arrested 13 people during today's march. The statement also confirmed that officers used "pepper spray and less-than-lethal munitions in response to actions of some protesters."
One telling detail from the list of arrests: One of the arrested protesters, an unidentified 37-year-old man, gave his name to police as "Quanice Hayes."
Here is the statement released tonight by the ACLU of Oregon.
Mayor Ted Wheeler:
Today, Portland Police Bureau policy led to violence against peaceful protesters including young kids and retired public employees. Most of these people where gathered on public property on the sidewalk when they were shoved down and arrested. On. The. Sidewalk. It was shameful.
It is time for you to take action:
End the violence against protesters. Stop the unnecessary use of crowd control weapons. Stop sending officers in riot gear to peaceful protests. Stop arresting organizers.