During an early Thursday morning sweep, the Portland Police Bureau cleared everybody from Chapman and Lownsdale squares, evicting the beginnings of a protest camp from parks that have served as hubs for the uprising against police brutality since late May.
Police say they arrived at the parks shortly after 5 am and gave protesters a 10-minute warning to leave. After that, police say, they arrested nine people, many of whom were charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing.
The city parks, which sit across Southwest 2nd Avenue from downtown courthouses, have for seven weeks served as a staging ground for confrontations with local and federal law enforcement. In the past week, protesters have erected tents—raising concern among local officials that an occupied protest, like Seattle's Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, might take root.
The operators of Riot Ribs, a barbecue joint set up in the parks to feed hungry protesters, said in a tweet Thursday morning that police arrested three of the restaurant's workers, and confiscated their grills and equipment.
The bureau said in an email statement Thursday that the parks are closed temporarily and will reopen after repairs to structures like benches, restrooms and art that were damaged during the ongoing clashes between protesters and police.
The clearing out of the parks occurred in a fraught moment, as President Donald Trump threatens to send more federal officers into cities that don't crack down on protests. This week, Mayor Ted Wheeler rebuffed the arrival of federal officers, who shot a protester in the face with a munition on July 11. "We do not need or want their help," Wheeler said, and asked for the feds to leave town or remain inside their buildings.
On Thursday morning, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf issued a response to Wheeler. (It was first reported by The Portland Mercury.)
"This siege can end if state and local officials decide to take appropriate action instead of refusing to enforce the law," Wolf wrote. "DHS will not abdicate its solemn duty to protect federal facilities and those within them. Again, I reiterate the Department's offer to assist local and state leaders to bring an end to the violence perpetuated by anarchists."