People's Police Report
Shootings & deaths
May Day Melee Elevates Tensions
May Day 2012 in Portland brought a mix of protests with police response varying from subdued to outrageously violent.
May Day started with an early morning student strike against budget cuts at Portland Public Schools headquarters in North Portland; police more or less left this event alone. The next action was a land liberation in NE Portland, where protestors marched to Alicia Jackson's house, then established the block as a police-free zone using banners. Police did not interfere with that action either, and Alicia was moved back into her home.
An unpermitted General Strike march began under the Burnside bridge in late morning. Arrests started shortly after. The police tackled, shoved, punched, pushed and pulled people by their hair or clothing. They also used their bicycles as weapons against peaceful protestors. The Mounted Patrol was on hand walking into crowds, stepping on toes and shoving people into each other.
Following the unpermitted events, a permitted march and rally started at the South Park Blocks mid- afternoon, including many protestors from earlier. Showing it is possible to let people march in the streets peacefully, no incidents of police violence occurred during this march. Portland Copwatch was "on duty" and found only a few items of note: Several non-Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers without nametags (they are not required to follow all PPB rules when called in) and a new body-mounted camera recording the First Amendment protected proceedings.
Once the permitted march ended, a few hundred protestors stayed to dance in the streets. They soon clashed with the Portland Police. An incident where a woman was dragged violently by her hair and shoved down was caught on video. An officer was also caught on video punching a protestor on the sidewalk. In response to the violence, the protestors continued to the Justice Center, where riot police turned vicious again after a stand-off.
Portland Police arrested 36 people throughout the day. One protestor's shin was cut when bicycle cops used their bike spokes as weapons. Another protestor's shoulder was dislocated. One 20 year old woman suffered a black eye and sprained ankle when she was dragged down to the ground by her clothing. A 15 year old was assaulted by the same officer who had assaulted him at a previous protest.
Meanwhile, protestors arrested at various Occupy Portland related events between October and February returned to Judge Albrecht's courtroom several times over the past few months. Despite Albrecht's requiring the release of video, notes, and information on undercover officers (PPR #56), the District Attorney and PPB missed several deadlines. Attorneys for the demonstrators were unable to complete pre-trial motions because they needed to examine the evidence; they asked for all cases to be dismissed due to the heel dragging. The few videos that have been released appear to have been edited, though the police deny cutting anything, and are being made available for on-site viewing or at a cost of $31 per DVD. At least two protestors had trials and were not convicted, another who was attacked while holding an umbrella was found guilty of three misdemeanor charges.
At another demonstration outside the June 4 appearance of Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, police were not injuriously violent, but did push and grab nonviolent protestors.
Portland Copwatch is a grassroots, volunteer organization promoting police accountability through citizen action.