Riot declared after Portland City Hall vandalized
Police declared a riot outside City Hall in downtown Portland on Tuesday during the 89th consecutive night of protests against police, systemic racism and other causes. City Hall was vandalized both inside and out, fires were started outside the building, 23 people were arrested and two juveniles were detained.
The incidents began at about 9:30 p.m. when a group of at least 100 people set out from Shemanski Park and marched east on Southwest Madison. They stopped outside Portland City Hall at Southwest Fourth Avenue and Madison Street and let themselves inside after apparently finding an unlocked door. KOIN 6 News watched some people scroll graffiti on the interior of the building before police arrived and started dispersing people to the south and west. Over the next hour, police arrested at least six people.
The crowd splintered and moved through nearby streets, regrouped in Chapman and Lownsdale squares, then returned to City Hall. Police declared a riot at about 11:15 p.m. and ordered the group to disperse or risk being arrested or exposed to tear gas.
The group's original target was expected to be a juvenile detention center in Northeast Portland but demonstrators made a last-minute location change. Posts online originally called on people to gather at 8 p.m. at Montavilla Park and included the words, "Keep children out of jail."
Another post suggested the march destination would be the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center, more than a mile away on Northeast 68th Place.
The Multnomah County Sheriff's Office announced via Twitter that "the property, including parking lots, is closed to the public. Anyone who enters the property may be subject to arrest."
County authorities reacted quickly to the planned march to the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center, which houses youth from Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. Some are in detention for Measure 11 crimes such as rape, kidnapping, attempted murder, assault and murder. It has the capacity to hold 191 juveniles, but according to Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury is well under capacity currently.
"This detention center no longer houses the hundreds of young people it once did. Multnomah County has led the state in efforts to reduce the number of incarcerated youth for decades," Kafoury said in a statement released Tuesday evening.
She also implored demonstrators to think of the children inside the detention center.
"There are 38 young people inside the building who have experienced trauma and difficulty in their lives that they are working through," Kafoury wrote. "There are also youth who are not in custody at all, but living in a residential shelter within the building. Please consider the kids and their parents."
It appears demonstrators already were considering the youths. A map shared online highlighted the section of the building housing imprisoned youths in red and asked people to "be familiar" with the layout. Another section of the building was highlighted in green on the map. The Juvenile Justice Complex and offices for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a program that helps abused and neglected children as they go through the removal process or juvenile dependency cases, are part of the same property.
Around the same time, another flier appeared online suggesting the meeting place had been changed to Shemanski Park in Downtown Portland.
KOIN 6 News is a news partner of the Portland Tribune. Their story with video can be found here.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.