As the Black Lives Matter-inspired vigil died early Friday morning, there were virtually no Oregon state police officers who took over the protection of the federal buildings in the protest center.
Instead of being forcibly removed from downtown Lownsdale Square and the adjacent Chapman Square in front of the barricaded U.S. House of Mark O. Hatfield, the crowd dispersed spontaneously and many protesters voluntarily left home.
About 1o’clock in the morning, only a relatively small crew remained, away from the huge crowd that had gathered four hours earlier to listen to the speakers and scan anti-law enforcement slogans. The mood was festive if weak.
“Short raised his hand,” said 30-year-old protester Derrick, wearing a helmet, ski goggles and a shield with the Oregon flag. “He underestimated us.”
“I don’t think he understands that there are so many people who are compatible with the so-called antifa, which he calls terrorists,” added Derrick, who asked not to be named.
In early July, the Trump administration had sent dozens of officers from various law enforcement agencies to Portland. President Trump justified the decision by saying local officials “lost control of anarchists and agitators,” and Attorney General William P. Barr said more officers were injured than protesters.
However, the move sparked outrage from protesters who accused officials of aggressively responding to largely peaceful protests and left the mayor of Portland and the governor of Oregon to the opposing president.
On Wednesday night, just hours after the government announced Kate Brown (D) an agreement that federal law enforcement would leave Portland, protesters and officials clashed in several of the most brutal scenes so far – tear gas, pepper balls and other stimuli were reused. disperse the crowd after 11 p.m.
Before dawn, the Portland Police Bureau tidied up the city’s central parks, which were used as a semi-permanent base during the protest, and later about 100 state officials arrived during the day. In an interview with Oregon State, Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton said his officers will follow a measured approach.
“You will find that these Oregon State Police Squads are not easily provoked,” he told the newspaper.
Thursday’s protests attracted a crowd of a similar size as other recent nights. Although there were several attempts at provocations, including fireworks and thrown stones, state police officers remained confined to the building and could only occasionally be seen watching the protests.
Some protesters said there was a different atmosphere in addition to the noticeable police involvement in the crowd. “It’s a lot less frugal and a little more humble,” he said. Shannon Echavarria, a 53-year-old pet care specialist, spoke. “Usually by then, people will kick that fence. It would be fireworks. They would fill up the trash. “
Echavarria said the change in tone was “100 percent as retirees leave.” However, the different atmosphere seemed to surprise some of the protesters. Many arrived wearing helmets and gas masks, but found themselves sitting on the grass of the park when they had escaped the previous evenings.
“Well, it looks like there won’t be much of a battle tonight,” one man told protesters guarding the screen at midnight. Minutes after the courthouse, a small fire broke out, although protesters quickly drove him out before he could spread.
Some protesters were wary of state police, noting that city police used tear gas to disperse protesters even before federal officials arrived. Other protesters noted that Trump warned on Thursday that he could call the National Guard.
But most protesters seemed to welcome the peace and believed the Portland protests would keep up the momentum. “It simply came to our notice then. After all, before we wanted the flow of information, it was definitely about Black Lives Matter, ”Echavarria said.
As the crowd rested at the end of the night, a free-appearing rapper named “No Shoes” said the time was only for fun.
“I think this may be the first time we haven’t emitted gas,” he told his listeners.