Marchers push through downtown to 'reclaim democracy'
Portland's progressives marked the 366th day of Donald J. Trump's presidency with impassioned chants and spirited speeches calling for the impeachment of a man they say is a "bogus POTUS."
Protest leaders anticipated about 2,000 attendees at the first march on Saturday, Jan. 20, in downtown Portland, though the crowd easily swelled beyond that number as the day continued.
"After Trump's election, it was clear to me that politics wasn't going to cut it," said organizer Jacob Bureros, 30, after handing off a megaphone across from City Hall. "This is our anniversary protest."
Portland city officials said the marches had not applied for a permit to march on streets. Police bureau officials said prior to the weekend that officers anticipated several "free speech events."
Charlotte Wylde and her friend carried a sign pasted with pictures of Oprah, Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as people assembled at Terry Schrunk Plaza around 12:30 p.m.
"I want to fight for women's rights," the 11-year-old said. "(Trump) is really racist, really sexist and I don't like people like that."
Another sign read: "You're fired, you racist buffoon."
"I'm really angry," explained the sign holder, 47-year-old filmmaker Jackie Weissman. "He grabbed women's genitals and he still got elected."
After a half hour of songs and talking, the crowd lurched onward, marching in the streets and sidewalk and occasionally against traffic. TriMet said bus and light-rail service would be disrupted for the day.
As the swarm moved through downtown, Rochelle Allen snuck out of a side door of Q, a high-end restaurant and bar where she works as a server. "I wish there were more people out here," she said, her voice breaking. "It's emotional. I can't even talk about it."
Police on bikes and motorcycles stayed one step ahead of the throng — usually preventing cars from driving within a two block radius of the column that slowly thread its way past the One World Trade Center and the U.S. Bancorp Tower.
Black-clad members of the loose coalition known as Antifa stayed at the front of the line, tossing out taunts toward police officers who ignored them.
At the waterfront, a blonde toupe impaled on a stake was spotted floating above the multitude, carried by Portlander Andy Kennedy. "I'm a man trying to support women," the 53-year-old carpenter said. "The stereotype of liberals is to be tolerant, to hear every perspective. It's time to change that — and that's me."
Phoebe Clement, a 19-year-old Lewis & Clark College student from Buffalo, N.Y., said Trump posed a threat to First Amendment rights like free speech, a free press and freedom to assemble. "I'm here to reclaim democracy," she said. "I (wanted) to feel a part of the community that resists Trump, and see a tangible representation of that resistance."
A second march began around 4 p.m., according to a tweet by the Portland Police Bureau, while others gathered at Pioneer Courthouse Square to speak and share stories. Joey Gibson, a leader of the Patriot Prayer group, was expected to make an appearance by 5 p.m. for a "Night Time Freedom March."