Man pulls gun on crowd of Portland protesters

No shots were fired and the gunman was arrested

Hundreds of protesters gathered downtown after police shootings in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, July 7, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Portland and cities across the United States following fatal shootings by police in Baton Rouge and Minnesota. 

One person was arrested after drawing a gun on the crowd but no shots were fired. Police were not there when he pulled the gun, but acted quickly once they heard the commotion. They had him on the ground in cuffs within minutes.

Video shot by Mike Bivins shows the moment the man, later identified as Michael Strickland, started pointing his gun at bystanders.

Strickland said he pulled his gun because people were coming at him and he was outnumbered.

The man who pulled a gun on the crowd was described as "anti Black Lives Matter" by Jessie Sponberg, who knows him. (KOIN)
The man who pulled a gun on the crowd was described as “anti Black Lives Matter” by Jessie Sponberg, who knows him. (KOIN)

“I’m backing up, they kept coming towards me. They kept coming towards me. That’s why I drew. I was outnumbered, they were pushing and shoving me, they were using their flagstaffs as weapons. I was backing up, they kept coming towards me. I feared for my life they had weapons,” he said.

Former mayoral candidate and Portland activist Jessie Sponberg talked Strickland into putting his weapon away. Most people did not realize what was going on and continued to approach him while his gun was drawn.

Michael Strickland, July 8, 2016 (Multnomah County Sheriff's Office)
Michael Strickland, July 8, 2016 (Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office)

Strickland, 36, was booked for menacing and 2nd-degree disorderly conduct.However, later Friday new felony charges were brought against him, including unlawful use of a weapon.

Court documents revealed Strickland’s gun had “a round in the chamber” and a full magazine loaded. Police said they found 5 more magazines in Strickland’s pants pockets along with a pocket knife.

He’s being held on $250,000 bail.

The crowd marched through downtown, and returned to Pioneer Courthouse Square, chanting “Black Lives Matter.”

In Dallas, 2 snipers shot 12 police officers, killing at least 5, during a protest that began as a peaceful demonstration.

Don’t Shoot Portland’s “This Can’t be Justice!” protest started at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Courthouse Square. The crowd moved from Pioneer Square to the Justice Center, where thousands of people gathered.

As the protest continued later Thursday night, people gathered at the Morrison Bridge, where they blocked traffic and threatened to go onto the bridge. Police urged protesters to get off the bridge.

Another group went to Naito Parkway and continued to chant “Black Lives Matter.”

The Portland Police Bureau was aware of the planned protests and there was a police presence throughout the event. Police urged people to avoid the area downtown, due to the heavy traffic blockage. MAX trains on all lines were also disrupted.

“We are aware and will monitor as necessary — no indication or expectation of any problems,” Portland Police Bureau spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson told KOIN 6 before the protest began.

In an internal message to PPB staffers, Chief Mike Marshman said he spoke with African-American community leaders “to let them know we understand the fear and anger these recent shootings and past shootings have raised.”

He pointed out that less than 1% of the calls for service in 2015 resulted in any kind of force, and only 2.8% of all arrests resulted in force.

“Last year we had six officer-involved shootings (3 of them non-fatal) and in 2014, we had three. The public’s perception is that these incidents happen much more often and these numbers are important to share,” Marshman wrote.

Protesters gather at Pioneer Courthouse Square in response to the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. (KOIN)
Protesters gather at Pioneer Courthouse Square in response to the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. (KOIN)

President Barack Obama said Thursday he shares feelings of “anger, frustration and grief” that police killings have triggered across the country.

He added that it’s clear they were not isolated incidents, saying the U.S. has “seen such tragedies far too many times.”

“They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post.

 

 

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