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Protesters to Mayor: We Didn’t Block Any Bridges or Roads

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

 

Demonstrationin downtown Portland: Photo credit: Don't Shoot Portland Facebook Page

Residents protesting the exoneration of a Missouri police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen said Monday that they didn't block streets during protests they organized in downtown Portland last week.

Organizers of the events said participants were peacefully protesting by the rules and were blamed for disruptions caused by unaffiliated protesters.

“We didn’t close any bridges, the police closed the bridges,” said organizer Teressa Raiford, Monday evening. “We do have a constitutional right to protest in the street, but we did not block any bridges.”

On Monday, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales issued a statement defending police actions and saying that police would continue to protect public safety and clear the roads for traffic and public transit.

Demonstrations have run almost nightly in Portland since Officer Darren Wilson was exonerated last Tuesday for the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Police broke up several marches through downtown using flash bang grenades, mounted units and arrested at least 17 people

Activists organizing under the banner Don’t Shoot Portland filed down to City Hall Monday and filed dozens of complaints against police for actions taken to quell the demonstrations.

Approximately 30 people filed complaints with the City Auditor’s Independent Police Review Division (IPR), according to Raiford.  The IPR confirmed Tuesday that it had recieved 34 complaints and that more were coming in.  Because of the volume of complaints, there was no specific timeframe that the IPR could give for when preliminary investigations would be completed.

Raiford said about 50 people in total filed complains either with the IPR, the NAACP, the National Lawyer’s Guild on Monday.

Raiford said that demonstrators trained for months on how to protest peacefully, within the constraints of the law. 

Tuesday night, police had to clear demonstrators from a freeway onramp after a march snaked from downtown to the inner eastside industrial district.

“Walking onto an interstate highway with cars traveling at a high rate of speed is both foolish and dangerous,” Hales said in a statement on Monday. “ It’s dangerous for protesters, but it’s dangerous for drivers, too.”

Raiford said that there were several groups of people who had broken off from the original group that was organized by Don’t Shoot Portland and who were responsible for blocking roads. Raiford said she could not describe the participants in detail.

 

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