“F*** TRUMP” read the crudely applied spray paint on the Starbucks window. A statement as encompassing as it was concise.
Thousands of protesters claimed the streets of Portland on Friday, Jan. 20, following the inauguration of President Trump. By 3:30 p.m., Pioneer Courthouse Square was filled with attendees preparing for speeches before the march titled “RISE UP and Resist Fascism.” The protest remained peaceful for several hours before ending with clashes between police and protesters.
People from all over Oregon attended, including former LBCC student and University of Oregon graduate Dustin Stauth of Corvallis.
“I thought it was important for me to be there because I strongly oppose Donald Trump’s ideology and policies and had not yet participated in a protest since his election. I also thought that my ability to travel there from Corvallis and to feel safe in participating was a privilege that not everyone had and thus my responsibility to utilize,” said Stauth, following the march.
Stauth felt there was a collective effort to garner attention for a cause.
“I sought to participate in sending a general message of opposition to what Trump represents, which is what happened from my point of view,” said Stauth.
A common thread amongst the crowd was the feeling that this would be the first of many protests while Donald Trump is in office.
“I’m terrified at our commander in chief being a man of very low intelligence who does not think things through. In a military operation, that can get people killed,” said Clayton J. Callahan SSG, Special Agent, U.S. Army (Ret.) of Portland.
Beyond President Trump’s command of the military, Callahan spoke about what he views as attacks on oppressed people by the president.
“If a Muslim isn’t free to practice his religion, I’m not free to practice mine. Period. That’s how it works, that’s how it’s always worked and marginalizing one population and playing them off against one another is a wonderful recipe for civil war, if you take it to the extreme,” said Callahan.
Between swaths of people thanking him for his service, Callahan explained that his time in the military confirmed his conclusions.
“I served in Iraq, I served under people with last names like Ramirez. I served with people like Waffa and Hassan. We’re all Americans over there… We come over here and I’m supposed to fear and distrust people of Hispanic descent or people of Muslim descent? Give me a break,” said Callahan.
Callahan said something that struck a chord with those gathered around his interview.
“The Trump agenda is not reality. It’s a fantasy, a hate-filled horror story, meant to scare us so that he can just be president and flatter his own damn ego,” said Callahan.
Leaving Pioneer Courthouse Square around 5 p.m., numbers grew as commuters got off of their now-landlocked busses and joined the march.
The first confrontation took place shortly after 5:30. Protesters attempted to take the Morrison Bridge and were met by police. Threats of violence from police as they began to unholster non-lethal weapons were responded to with boos and insults from the crowd.
After five minutes, the crowd moved north on Southwest 2nd Avenue while police in military-style body armor reinforced the police line.
Protesters walked into a kettle, a tactical maneuver where police covertly surround a march, spanning several blocks and were then forced to march in a two block radius in Chinatown.
When the march attempted to leave the police-approved march route, they were met with lines of riot police and grew increasingly agitated each time.
After 30 minutes in the police kettle, contingencies within the march moved sporadically in different directions, confusing police and breaking the kettle.
The protest moved to the waterfront where they were confronted by riot police at 6:40 and instructed to move down Southwest Taylor Street or “face serious bodily harm.”
Following the standoff, protesters moved down Taylor Street. It was at this time when several acts of graffiti took place and police escalated efforts to end the assembly.
Shortly after, protesters broke another kettle and attempted to take the Burnside Bridge before being pepper sprayed.
Shortly before 7 p.m., the march was declared an unlawful assembly and was forced back towards Pioneer Courthouse Square. As protesters neared the square, police deployed flash grenades and mace to disperse the crowd. There were unconfirmed reports of further chemical agents being utilized by police. Flares as well as other projectiles being thrown at police and buildings were reported by the Portland Police via Twitter, unconfirmed by anyone on the ground.
Five people were arrested, including one person wanted in connection with vandalism that happened in Portland during the November protests. The man arrested allegedly possessed a propane torch and a knife at the time of his arrest.
Neither the Portland Police Bureau or organizers of the march could be reached for comment.
Story and Photos by K. Rambo