Police arrest 59, a new peak, on 101st night of Portland protests
Police arrest 59, a new peak, on 101st night of Portland protests

Molly Harbarger
The Oregonian, Portland, Ore.
(TNS)

In a continual escalation of arrests, Portland police arrested 59 people Saturday night and Sunday morning, by far the most arrests from a single event since the beginning of the protests against police violence and anti-Black racism 101 days ago.

The arrests were almost all on low-level misdemeanors, as well as the felony charge of riot. Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt said that he would dismiss protester charges for riot and many common misdemeanors.

Oregon State Police arrested 16 of the 59. The state police have not released the names or charges for those 16.

The arrests follow a night in which a riot was declared and tear gas almost immediately deployed after three Molotov cocktails were thrown from the protesters and one person was burned. Police, citing the clothing of protesters and that some carried shields, said that they decided the protest would not be peaceful and so blocked protesters from marching to Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct.

Protesters were scattered by tear gas and police pushes in different directions.

During the night, police rounded up several protesters at a time for arrest, creating the sight of seven people with hands ziptied sitting on a curb, waiting for transportation to the county jail — an unusual one for the protests so far.

Of the 43 people whom Portland police arrested, eight were charged with crimes Schmidt has not already committed to dismissing.

The vast majority of protesters were charged with interfering with a peace officer, a misdemeanor so vague that it could apply to almost any action a protester takes that does not exactly comply with police orders.

Interfering with a peace officer continues to be the most common charge at Portland protests, despite a state work group looking at whether it should be tweaked or eliminated from law. Three in four of all protesters arrested have been charged with interfering with a peace officer. The charge of disorderly conduct in the second degree is nearly as common.

Nearly 10% of people arrested by Portland police Saturday night were charged with interfering alone.

Only two people of the 43 were not charged with the crime.

Portland police have steadily increased their use of arrests in the last several weeks of protests. Saturday’s count far outstrips any night since the first week of protests, when 48 people were arrested on two different nights.

As of Aug. 27, city police officers had arrested that month nearly three times the number of people they arrested in all of July, according to an analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Of the 217 arrests, half of those were during one week.

Since then, arrest numbers have remained high.

Police Chief Chuck Lovell has maintained that police make “good arrests” and that the nightly protests attract a “couple hundred” criminals.

Even with the increase in arrests, most nights’ charges closely mirror Saturday’s.

Portland police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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